My wife and I are 38 and 43, respectively, and we just paid off our home mortgage – a home we purchased seven years ago. It feels great to own our home outright and not have the risk of that big debt in our life.
Making the decision to pay off our mortgage early is a decision we’ve gone back and forth on. We’ve wrestled with it. But, ultimately, our financial successes and inertia pushed us to go forward with the payoff.
If you’re reading this post you’re probably wrestling with the decision too.
Let’s stop right here and recognize how amazing it is that you are even considering this question. No doubt things are going well for you financially and you’ve made some smart decisions with your money. Congrats!
If you’re contemplating this decision and you have the means to pay off your mortgage early – either with a lump sum or through routine prepayments – I think you should, even though the long-term math says you shouldn’t.
In this article, I’ll share in more detail why I think you should pay off your mortgage early, how I thought through this decision, some of the pros and cons, and, finally, I’ll share the actual process we took to pay off our mortgage early (PLUS, 5 more strategies).
Things to Do Before You Consider Paying Off the Mortgage Early
A few caveats before we look at this question. I’ll assume you are living within your means and have all the basics taken care of. Here are some more things you should probably have taken care of before you go about paying off your mortgage early.
Have a well-established emergency savings fund. This is personal finance 101. Have enough emergency savings stashed away so that in case of an emergency you can cover it with these funds.
Have no other debts. In most cases, the home mortgage should be the last debt that you tackle. Get rid of those student loans, car loans, personal loans, medical debts, and certainly any credit card debt before you dive into the mortgage prepayment process.
Be getting your employer match. If your company 401k offers a matching savings program, you should definitely be getting that, and you should be able to maintain that level of savings while you are paying off your mortgage early.
Be mostly settled. Life changes all the time, but those who want to tackle their mortgage head on should have their life in order and be somewhat settled. Is your income stable and growing? Are you done with family planning? Are you rooted in your community? If you aren’t settled in life, frankly, you shouldn’t be buying homes to live in.
The argument around paying off your mortgage early mostly revolves around whether you should instead be investing the money.
The math actually supports investing in most cases, especially as the term becomes longer. I’m not going to get too deep into it, but here’s a couple of short, crude examples:
Let’s say you have a $200,000 mortgage at a 30-year fixed 4% interest rate.
Let’s also assume you have an extra $1,000 each month to either invest in taxable investment accounts or apply to your mortgage.
Example 1 (Invest): If you spend the next 30 years paying that off with the minimum payments, you will have paid a total of $343,739.21 in combined principal and interest payments. If you invested the $1,000 each month into a taxable investing account at a projected 6% annual return, your investment alone would be worth around $950,000 at the 30-year mark.
Example 2 (Debt Payoff): If instead, you apply the extra $1,000 to your monthly payments, at the end of 10.5 years you will have paid off your mortgage. You will have paid a total of $245,007.71 in combined principal and interest payments. If you then started investing the $1,000 each month into a taxable investing account at a projected 6% annual return, your investment would grow over the next 19.5 years and be worth around $440,000 at the 30-year mark.
So, even though you will save around $100,000 in interest payments, you are giving up over $500,000 in potential investment gains.
Over 10 or 15 years the difference isn’t as drastic AND stock market returns do vary. But it’s important to understand what you are giving up over the long-haul, and I think this example shows just that.
Before we leave this section, you should know: you can do both! You can fast track your mortgage and still aggressively invest. It’s not an either-or proposition.
You’ll likely make more money in the future. You’ll get a raise. Your business will take off. You’ll create that second or third stream of income. Pretending that you can only do one or the other only limits your mindset.
Go after both! When you do both, the math always works out in your favor.
Reduce the amount of interest paid on debt. By reducing the amount of time it takes to pay off the loan, you are reducing the amount of interest you’ll pay. In the example above, you’re saving around $100,000.
Reduce monthly outflows. Once you pay off the mortgage, you’ll no longer have a mortgage payment. Now your monthly expenses are lower and you’ll have more money in your monthly budget to do other things with: invest, spend, give, etc.
More freedom. By eliminating the mortgage early, you bring more freedom into your life. Maybe you or your spouse can now stay at home with your children? If you’re a budding entrepreneur like me, think about how much easier it would be for you to leave your full-time job to pursue a business idea full time. No mortgage = freedom!
Security and peace of mind for your family. With one less expense, you’re creating more security for your family in case of future emergencies. You’ll always have your home to go to regardless of the economy or the bank’s issues. This is big for my wife. It’s the main reason she wanted this debt gone. She’s much more secure in our overall financial position without the home debt.
Simplify your finances and life. The older I get, the less I want to think about my finances. Removing the mortgage means I don’t have to think about the mortgage payment, my lender, or fuss with online payments.
The Disadvantages of Paying Off Your Mortgage Early
Reduced liquidity. When you pay off your mortgage early you’re likely taking money off the table that could be implemented quickly to help you in your life. Paying off your mortgage early could leave you “house rich”, cash poor for a while.
Overall less diverse portfolio. By paying off your mortgage you may be putting many of your eggs in one big basket. This makes you really dependent upon the local real estate market (some of which are actually going down in value) and dependent on the overall economy.
Loss of tax deduction (although the new tax law changes this for some). One of the nicest benefits of having a home mortgage when it comes time to pay your taxes is the home mortgage interest deduction, which you can claim if you itemize your deductions. The new tax law increased the standard deduction, however, and so many folks are going to be losing the ability to take this deduction anyway.
Lost potential investment returns. This is the biggie. By saying yes to paying off your mortgage, you are saying no to investing in the stock market, rental properties, your business, and other investments. The opportunity cost can be huge as we showed in the example above.
You’ll still have payments (property taxes, insurance, HOA dues, maintenance, etc.). Just because you got rid of the mortgage it doesn’t mean you still don’t have to pay for your house. In fact, there are still likely at least three major expenses you’ll have: taxes, insurance, and maintenance. That’s a bummer. On top of that, you’ll have to start saving for and making your own insurance and tax payments yourself if you previously escrowed them.
Possible prepayment fees and negative credit consequences. Watch out for prepayment fees. They could make your early payoff plan a terrible idea. Lastly, know that if you pay off your mortgage – your primary installment credit line – you’re likely going to reduce your attractiveness to future lenders who’d rather see a more diverse credit mix. Albeit, you probably don’t need credit once you pay off your home.
6 Different Strategies to Pay Off Your Mortgage Early
Okay, so you’ve decided to do this. Let’s actually get into some ways in which you could go about paying off your mortgage early. There are quite a few:
1. Making Routine (Extra) Prepayments on Your Mortgage.
The most common way would be to simply start making additional principal payments each month.
Ideally, you can automate this function with your lender. Just make sure that when you start making extra payments they get applied to your actual principal vs both principal and interest.
An extra $250 per month on a 200,000 loan at 4% interest would knock 10 years off your loan – taking it from a 30-year mortgage to a 20 year.
2. Setup Biweekly Payments
Instead of paying your mortgage each month, you could switch to bi-weekly payments. This would give you 26 half payments each year vs the 12 full payments.
This strategy will help you speed up your mortgage payoff and will help you save on interest without actually changing much of your cash outlay.
I know Quicken Loans allows this type of payment to be automated now. Check with your lender to see if they can set it up for you.
3. Refinancing to a 15 Years vs 30 Year Mortgage
As a way of forcing yourself to pay off your home faster, you could refinance your mortgage down to a 10, 15, or 20-year term.
There might be closing costs to account for here. But a better rate and a shorter term could be just the strategy you need.
We actually did this ourselves after we’d been in our home for three years. We thought we’d be fine just paying it off at the 15-year term. But just three years later we got itchy again and decided to start making big lump sum payments.
4. Rent Out a Room (aka House Hack) and Apply the Rent Payment
An alternative strategy is to become an Airbnb host and rent out a room in your home to the occasional visitor. This extra income stream could be applied directly to your mortgage balance and help you pay off your home sooner.
5. Mortgage Acceleration Software/HELOC
I’ve looked into the mortgage acceleration software/strategies and I just can’t wrap my head around how they actually work, much less do an actual cost/benefit analysis of the software required to pull it off efficiently.
They feel too complicated and scammy, too. My advice is to stay away from anything that seems weird or that you can’t understand. I don’t understand these things, so I’ll skip it.
6. Paying Off Your Mortgage Early with Lump Sum Payments
This is ultimately the method we chose to use over the past two years to knock out our mortgage. We stashed cash from business successes mainly and used it to make big lump sum payments, concluding with a ~$49k payment this past month.
Whether it’s annual bonuses, tax refunds, stock options, or some side-hustle business boom, think of the lump sums you’ll be getting over the next few years. Make plans to apply those big chunks to your mortgage.
There are no ways to automate this, unfortunately. But if you are in a place where you’re just crushing it financially and you trust yourself to not let your lifestyle creep up, this can be a massively effective strategy.
The Actual Process of Paying Off Your Mortgage (aka Making the Final Payment)
When it’s time to make the final payment using a lump sum approach, you’ll need to request your payoff amount. This amount it going to be slightly different than your actual mortgage balance shown on your statement or on your lender’s website.
You can either call and request it or do like I did and use the lender’s website customer support chat. Here’s my chat thread:
Once we got that payoff number, we went to our personal checking account online account and set up a cashier’s check payment. There was a fee of $20 to overnight it. Here’s a snapshot of our cashier’s check:
Once the lender receives the final payment they will apply it to the loan and send you a letter to inform you that your mortgage loan is paid in full.
What if you have two mortgages on your home? Let’s say you have two mortgages on your home: the primary mortgage and a second mortgage or HELOC. In that instance, you should definitely pay off the second mortgage or HELOC first. 99% of the time those second loans will have higher interest rates and be smaller in amount. Knock them out first and then tackle the primary.
What if you have a rental property mortgage like I do? If you have a rental property mortgage, unless it’s some minuscule amount, that debt should come second in priority to your home mortgage. If something happens to your rental property mortgage, the worst that can happen is you can no longer rent it out. But if the bank makes a call on your home mortgage, you’d be out of a home. The smart thing here is to pay off the home mortgage first.
Final Thoughts on Paying Off Your Mortgage Early
If you’re asking this question of whether to pay off the home mortgage early then you are in a great spot. Honestly, what you do here doesn’t matter that much because you’re already making such good financial decisions.
If you’re the type to hyper-focus on the math and you’ve got a home for this investment money, then, by all means, let the numbers lead you.
But if you can shoot to be completely debt free and still maintain some aggressive saving (likely what you’ll do either way) then go for the early mortgage payoff.
What’s your plan? Will you be paying off your home mortgage early?
Instead of an actual interview with someone else today, I thought I’d share a bit of my own knowledge about making extra money from blogging.
Blogging can be a great way to make money on the side. It’s a perfect side hustle because it’s flexible and doesn’t require much in terms of start-up costs. Once you get the hang of building a successful blog, the sky’s the limit when it comes to your earnings.
In fact, many turn their blogging side hustle into a full-time venture. If you’re new to the idea, you may have a few questions about blogs and how they make money. As someone who’s been blogging since 2007, I thought it would be helpful to answer some of the most common ones.
Ready to learn how you too can make money blogging? Let’s dive in.
1. How Do You Make Money from Blogging?
There are many different ways to make money from a blog. Here’s what I’ve been doing and how it works for me.
I’m still learning and tweaking things every day. And while I’m disclaiming here, let me say that “blogging” and “social media” are ever-evolving, hard-to-define things.
So my definition of blogging and making money online is formed by looking through my own lens. Others see it differently.
Still, I’ve been at it since 2007 and full-time since 2010, so I’ve managed to figure a few things out.
At a high level, I make money with my blog by producing content that gets consistent, relevant traffic to this blog from the search engines. Then I convert that traffic to a sale.
At an even higher level, I make money by providing an answer to people’s questions. This is basically a form of content marketing.
How This Blog is Monetized
There are many ways to convert the traffic that I get to an immediate sale. I use the following methods here at Part-Time Money: display advertising, pay-per-click (PPC) tables, and affiliate marketing.
The most common and easy-to-implement monetization is with display advertising through advertising networks. Display networks show ads programmatically based on the content in the blog post.
Mediavine is who I’m currently using for display ads, but I’ve used Adsense and Media.net with much success in the past.
Affiliate advertising involves more of a direct relationship with an advertising partner (although sometimes established through an affiliate platform).
The way it works is, I sign up for their affiliate program and they provide me the links and banners to display on the site. This is how I make most of my money from the site.
PPC tables are those rate tables you find on my savings and personal loan pages. The ideas is that instead of me managing a bunch of direct relationships, an ad platform puts it all into one table for me to display. This works best when rates are constantly changing and there are many partners in the space.
Why Email Subscribers are Important
Finally, I should add that I don’t exclusively try to immediately convert readers to a sale. I also collect email sign-ups and subsequently share affiliated products I know and trust in my email newsletters.
The common denominator in all of those methods is quality traffic. If you can get the traffic then you can figure out how to monetize it. There are a million different ways to monetize a blog. The trouble is getting the traffic in the first place.
To build high quality, consistent, relevant traffic from the search engines you need to do two primary things: provide valuable content (e.g. solve problems, answer questions) and be seen as somewhat of an authority on the subject matter (i.e. you’ve been around a while and other people refer to you on the subject).
I could go on and on about content and authority, but I’ll save that for another blogger to explain. Or, you can email me and I’ll elaborate.
Products and Services
Another, often overlooked way, to make money blogging is by offering your products and services. This could range from a course that solves your readers’ pain points to a service such as consulting you can offer to other businesses,
While this is not how I choose to monetize my blog, many bloggers have success with this strategy. Once you create a product, you can sell it over and over and make money from it. Providing services also require minimal overhead.
One of the great things about this monetization strategy is that you don’t need as much traffic as you would if you made money through advertising. Being laser-focused with your efforts is a lot more important than having lots of traffic when it comes to products and services.
Finally, you can make money with your blog through sponsored content. The way it works is that a company pays you to review a product or a service on your blog and promote it to your readers.
How much you get paid depends on a number of factors. These include variables such as your page views, the product, the niche, the company, and so on. There are some bloggers who monetize their sites heavily through sponsored posts so this can be pretty lucrative.
17 Ways to Make Money Blogging
To get the ideation going, I thought I’d list all of the ways I’ve ever heard of someone making money from a blog. Here we go:
Affiliate Marking* – A great example of this on display is the Swagbucks link on my popular post, 52 Ways to Make Extra Money. To sign up for these affiliate programs you can visit a site like CJ.com, ImpactRadius.com, or go directly to the advertiser.
Display (Cost-Per Impression) Advertising* – I use Mediavine.com to serve up my display ads. You can see them in the content, sidebar, and at the footer. I get paid based on impressions, not clicks.
Cost-Per-Click Advertising* – You can see this type of advertisement in the table on my Best Savings Account page. I use QuinStreet / Surehits to serve up these types of tables. I get paid when readers click on those ads to see more info about the offer, regardless if they actually sign up or not. Google Adsense is the most popular CPC advertising platform.
Direct/Private Placement Ads* – Some advertisers might pay you directly to put up an ad or to place their affiliate link higher on the page. These are usually negotiated directly with the advertiser.
Sponsored Content* – A great example of this type of paid content is my recent post about 7 Things to Do Before You Quit Your Day Job. The advertiser paid to have this content produced and the extra funds allowed us to promote it across social media, our newsletter, and in our own Facebook ad campaigns.
Freelance Writing Services* – By having your own blog you are naturally showcasing your writing capabilities and creating trust with other site owners. I never had to even advertise my services and I ended up with a regular contributor gig with TurboTax for several years.
Consulting / Coaching* – A blog will put you in a position of authority with your readers and many may seek your advice. Set up a profile over at Clarity.fm and start charging for your time. Here’s my profile. I rarely use this – but as my businesses grow it’s becoming more and more difficult for me to just pick up the phone so someone can “pick my brain”.
Other Professional Services (i.e. tax preparation services, financial planning)* – A blog can be a great tool to drive leads to any type of service, really. In my industry, many financial professionals use their blogs to bring in customers/clients. I have a link on some of my tax pages to my father’s accounting practice (see the example at the bottom here). It drives a few leads every year.
In-Person Seminars or Speaking Gigs – If you’re a public speaker or if you want to host paid, in-person events you can certainly use your blog to drive interest in your abilities. I’m not necessarily interested in this route, but I still get asked to speak occasionally.
Paid Webinars – Similar to paid seminars, you could host paid online seminars (aka webinars) and charge a group of folks a fee to share information. The free webinar model probably cuts into your ability to sell this directly, but I know it’s done.
Digital Products/Courses – Other than affiliate marketing, digital products and courses are probably one of the most scalable business models in blogging. The idea is simple: create premium offers using your own expertise and host the product or course somewhere people can purchase it.
Memberships / Masterminds – If you’ve built a community of followers, some of them may be willing to opt-in to regular membership with you to gain more access to your expertise or routine accountability. Or, you could put together a small group of folks who come together around you and a subject and charge a real premium for this service. This podcast with Nick Loper over at Side Hustle Nation does a good job of showcasing what’s possible with paid masterminds.
Book Sales – Whether you’ve published traditionally, self-published, or simply have a small series of guidebooks, a blog can help drive book sales. A great example of this method on display is from Todd Tresidder from Financial Mentor.
Physical Products – Have a physical product that pairs well with your subject? Have it created and sell it from your blog. Here’s a nice guide on physical products created by my email marketing software provider, ConvertKit.
Software as a Service (SAAS) – Build software that solves your reader’s problem. A great example of this is on display over at LoanBuddy, which was co-founded by bloggers/podcasters Robert Farrington and Ryan Inman.
Conferences & Online Summits* – Hey, here’s one I’ve got some experience with. While FinCon doesn’t directly serve my reader, having my blog was instrumental in helping me connect with the people who would come to my event. Online summits have become very popular and some can even turn a nice profit.
Podcast / Youtube Channel Sponsorships* – Finally, a podcast or Youtube channel is a natural extention of your blog. And with that new medium comes the opportunity to monetize it separately. When I was regularly podcasting I turned to cast.plus to help me monetize.
*Ideas that I have used.
2. How Much Can You Make from Blogging?
Right now this blog brings in anywhere from $5k to $15k in monthly income. However, there are bloggers on all ends of the spectrum when it comes to making money blogging.
For example, Michelle Schroeder-Gardner from Making Sense of Cents regularly makes more than $100K with her blog every month. Other bloggers with large followings or better traffic numbers make more than $1 million a year.
Keep in mind that when you start out, you won’t be making much. Many bloggers quit before they really gain traction. It’s a slow process but once you build your audience and find your people, your blog and your income will grow.
3. Why and How Did You Get Started Blogging?
I started blogging about personal finance after a year or so of reading other personal finance blogs and feeling like I also had something to contribute.
When I first started blogging, I wasn’t that great (I’m a grammatically-challenged writer), and I definitely didn’t know how to monetize the little traffic I did have.
I think now that it was my passion for personal finance that kept me going and allowed me to eventually have some success.
I started making real money after meeting other bloggers online who were doing just that. They were kind enough to share their methods with me and I’ve been optimizing different monetization techniques ever since.
As for the technical aspects, I started on Blogger but moved to WordPress hosted on
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in early 2008. Bluehost provides affordable hosting services for beginners and more advanced needs.
Now I use WP Engine as a host.
Want to start your own blog to make extra money? PT has been blogging full time since 2010. Here’s exactly how he does it.
Now that you know what’s possible when it comes to making money blogging, you’re probably wondering how to get started. Since I know blogging can be overwhelming at first, I wanted to help you get started.
Below are the steps I’d take if I was starting a blog today from scratch.
Choose a Blogging Platform
The blogging platform used by a large number of professional bloggers is WordPress. This is the platform I use right now and recommend to new bloggers. However, if you’ve never heard of it before, you may be wondering what exactly is WordPress.
Basically, it’s the system on which your blog runs. It’s the backbone of your blog and makes it possible to build a website from scratch without any prior technical experience. You don’t need any technical knowledge to get started with WordPress.
There are two main options for starting a WordPress blog–WordPress.org and WordPress.com. Below is some information for each one to help you decide:
You own your blog (not WordPress)
Your site looks professional
You can change up your design however you choose
You can get a professional domain “yourdomain.com”
Bloggers who make money use WordPress.org
Fairly inexpensive hosting
WordPress owns your blog (not you)
Your site doesn’t look professional
You’re limited in what you can do with your blog
You’ll get a “yourdomain.wordpress.com” domain
It’s harder to make money on the free version of WordPress
If you’re looking to make money blogging, the better option is a WordPress.org blog. While it’s not free, it’s very affordable. There’s so much more you can do with a self-hosted blog. It’s also much easier to monetize–this is why so many big bloggers go this route.
Pick a Web Host for Your Blog
If you do some research on starting a blog, you’ll see a number of different web host options. They all have their positives and negatives. If you’re just starting out, my recommendation is to go with
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As a new blogger, you don’t want to invest a lot of money into your blog before you figure out how to make money. There’s definitely a learning curve and you’ll spend a lot of time tweaking your blog.
This is why I think
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is a good option. It’s very affordable and works well for those just starting out. Since I have a special deal with Bluehost, you can go through my link and get hosting for less than $3 per month. Other hosting options can be much pricier.
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Decide on Your Domain Name
One of the keys to making money with your blog is deciding on a niche. You can make money blogging in a variety of niches but the more specific your blog is the better.
What do I mean by that? For example, if you want to write about pets, having a blog dedicated just to dogs will be a lot more successful than one that talks about cats, guinea pigs, hamsters, and so on.
Sure, you can have success with a blog that covers a variety of subjects but it’s a lot harder. This is why it’s best to narrow down your focus to just one area and cover it extensively.
Once you have an idea of what you want to blog about, brainstorm some ideas for your domain name. While your blog name doesn’t have to be strictly related to your niche, it does help make it easier to remember.
A few tips:
Pick a URL that’s easy to spell and not very long.
Stick to URLs that end in .com rather than .biz, .org, .info, etc.
Avoid using number, dashes or special characters
Ready to get started? Check if your blog name is available and get started with
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Finding the right name for your blog can take a few tries so don’t despair if you don’t get it right off the bat. Make sure you grab your social media handles for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. as soon as you finalize your domain name.
Sign Up for Hosting
The sign-up process with Bluehost is fairly straightforward. Just follow the on-screen prompts and fill in the required information. The basic plan will work for most people starting out:
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To get the biggest discount on your hosting, I recommend picking Bluehost’s 36-month hosting plans. This will greatly reduce the overall cost of your blog. How many side hustles can you start with such a low upfront cost?
With summer approaching, I thought I’d share some common summer job opportunities for teenagers and college students to make extra money. I loved most of my summer jobs. Each brought me a different experience and helped to teach me about myself.
What jobs are available and their pay rate will depend on where you live, the employer, your age, and other factors. Child labor laws also factor in sometimes so be sure to brush up on specific laws regarding teens and work. The Minimum Wage in the United States is currently at $7.25 an hour, although many states have set a higher minimum wage.
Let’s check out some summer job options for teens!
Outdoor Jobs for Teens
Landscaping can include lawn maintenance, but could also include more elaborate landscaping, like gardening and planting trees and bushes. If you already have experience with lawn care and access to lawn equipment, you could launch your own lawn service this summer. If not, apply to work for a professional landscaping company. The average pay for landscaping is $12.75 an hour. You could make more working for yourself instead of a landscaping company.
Working as a lifeguard requires becoming certified. Options include working for your local recreation center, neighborhood pool or even a waterpark. It’s a great option if you like being outdoors in the sun. The average pay for a lifeguard is $9.48 an hour.
In more rural areas, teens can find work on local farms. Work can include feeding and caring for farm animals, bailing hay, plowing, planting, harvesting crops, and more. Keep in mind that being a farm hand is hard, physical work. That could be good or bad, depending on who you are. The average pay for a farm hand is $11.35 an hour.
Outdoor Nursery Worker
Typical duties at a nursery include caring for plants, setting up displays, helping customers load supplies in their vehicles, cleaning, and more. This job could require some heavy lifting as well as customer service. The average pay for an outdoor nursery worker is $14.00 an hour.
Teens can make great money working as a caddy at a golf course. Pay depends on the specific golf course. Caddy programs are normally found at older, private courses. Golf caddies usually get paid by the bag and can earn around $100 to $120 carrying two bags for 18 holes. As golf has changed and become more modernized, caddy programs are not as common anymore. You may have to know someone or hear about a job opening as they aren’t normally advertised.
Local youth recreation and travel leagues often hire teens as referees and umpires. Referees and umpires are usually paid per game. The average pay for a referee is $16.27 an hour. This could be a great way to earn money fast. One drawback is that fact that no matter what call you make on the field, someone will think you’re wrong. Dealing with overzealous sports parents and coaches has contributed to a referee shortage in recent years.
Another sports-related job for teens is keeping score for youth sports leagues. Generally, teens are paid minimum wage for scorekeeping. This is a job that requires your attention at all times to ensure accuracy. Scorekeepers also have to deal with coaches from time to time. If you love sports, though, this is a great entry level job option.
If you live near an apple orchard, look into becoming an apple picker. Some orchards will pay hourly (the average pay for an apple picker is $11.27 an hour), but often pickers are paid per piece or bushel. Because of that, it pays to become a fast picker. This makes apple picking a labor-intensive job.
Pool Cleaner is another great outdoor job option. It’s not easy work despite how it looks on TV. Pool Cleaners not only clean the pool, but also clean and change filters, maintain PH levels, and more. You could start your own pool cleaning business, but that requires buying the necessary cleaning equipment. It’s probably better to just work for a pool cleaning company to get started and learn the skills. The average pay for a pool cleaner is $ 12.16 an hour.
If you like to swim and teach, becoming a swimming instructor could be the perfect summer job. You can work for a local recreation center or local pool complex. The average pay for a swimming instructor is $11.78 an hour.
10 Fun Summer Jobs for Teens and College Students - YouTube
Retail Jobs for Teens
Grocery Stocker / Bagger
Another great teen summer job is working as a grocery stocker or bagger. Plus there are tons of groceries stores so open jobs are more common. The average pay for a grocery stocker is $10.33 an hour. Duties include stocking food items carried by the store, setting up displays, removing expired food, and helping customers load groceries into their vehicles.
Retail Sales Associate
Teens can also make money working retail. The average pay for a retail sales associate is $10.43 an hour. You could also get access to store discounts too. Retail jobs often require working weekends, evenings, and holidays. It also requires a lot of interaction with customers.
Get a job as a cashier this summer and you could make $10 or more an hour. Good cashier jobs include grocery stores and retail stores. The average pay for a cashier is $9.29 an hour. Cashiers obviously have to learn to use a cash register. They also handle money and must keep a balanced cash drawer.
Jobs Working with Kids
You can make great money babysitting. This could be for a few hours while parents go on a date night or during the day while parents are at work. Post your services on care.com, sittercity.com or locally on Craigslist or Facebook. The average pay for babysitters is $10.23 an hour. Sometimes local organizations offer babysitting programs to learn skills necessary for watching kids such as safety.
Another way to work with kids is through tutoring. If you are smart and work well with kids, you can make great money this way. The average pay for a tutor is $17.64 an hour. Teaching kids can be a challenge at times. It requires patience and the ability to explain concepts clearly.
If you love to dress up and entertain kids, try your hand at working kids’ parties. Parents love to throw great parties for their children. You can get a job working for an entertainment company or a business that hosts kids’ parties. You will need to stay in character the duration of the party. Also, because parents are paying for a premium for their child’s party, they expect a great experience. The average pay for a party host is $9.08 an hour.
Typical summer camp jobs don’t pay excellent, but you have your room and food covered. However, it’s also rewarding because of the experiences you have the positive impact you get to have on others. For the kids attending the camp, it’s their best week of the summer and you get to be part of it. The average pay for a camp counselor is $9.31 an hour.
Jobs Working with Animals
Animal Shelter Associate
If you like working with animals, look for a job at local animal shelters. Duties include caring for animals, walking and feeding animals, and cleaning the animals’ living quarters. The average pay for an animal shelter associate is $13.32 an hour. This can be a meaningful job because you are helping animals that may have been abandoned or abused. That can also be a tough job mentally and emotionally.
Make money this summer as a pet sitter. Post your services on Rover.com or pet sit for family and friends. The average pay for a pet sitter is $13.00 an hour. You could potentially make more if you are watching animals for extended periods of time. With pet sitting you are in control of your schedule and can say yes or no to any job. The flip side to that is waiting for people to choose you as their pet sitter.
Get a job working at your local zoo this summer. Most likely you won’t be working too close to animals (other than cleaning up after them), but it’s a great experience in a cool environment. Teen zoo workers usually start at minimum wage, but you can make more depending on the specific zoo. For example, The Bronx Zoo in New York City pays roughly $11.29 an hour for sales associates and $15.00 an hour for their camp counselors. Since zoos aren’t as common as other businesses, you’ll need to live near one to get a job.
Pet Store Associate
This is similar to working retail except there’s also the chance to work with animals from time to time. That depends on the type of pet store and whether they have animals or just pet supplies. Typical pay is minimum wage to start but can be more depending on the store. The average pay for Pet Supplies Plus employees is $10.53 an hour.
If you like dogs, become a dog walker in your area to make money this summer. You can list your services on Rover.com. The average pay for a dog walker is $13.66 an hour. Similar to pet sitting, most of your work relies on other people seeking out your services unless you go out and inquire with pet owners.
Jobs Working with cars
If you like cars, you could make money this summer detailing cars. Typical detailing jobs are found at car dealerships. Duties include cleaning vehicles inside and out. There’s not much variation to the work, which may get old fast. The average pay rate for car detailers is $11.40 an hour.
Being a car valet is typically reserved for older teens with driving experience. Car valet jobs can be found at higher-end restaurants, shopping areas, and hotels. The average pay for a car valet is $9.73 an hour. Don’t forget you can make money by getting tips as well. It’s fun to drive other people’s nice cars, but you’re usually aren’t driving them very far.
Other Summer Jobs for Teens
Movie Theater Attendant
Movie theater attendants clean movie theaters, work concessions, and take tickets. The average pay for movie theater attendants is $11.00 an hour. Plus you get to watch all the free movies you want. Cleaning up a movie theater can be a dirty job at times.
Fast Food Employee
Jobs at fast food restaurants are always available for teens. Even small cities usually have a handful of fast food restaurants. Typical duties include working the front counter or drive-thru window, cleaning, cooking, food prep, and more. The average pay for a fast food worker is $8.36 an hour.
Another food-related job is working as a server at a restaurant. To be a good waitress or waiter you need to be efficient, honest, and know your menu. The average pay for restaurant servers is $8.30 an hour. Part of your earnings will be tips as well, which can be good or bad depending on the customers you have. You also are relying on the kitchen staff to put out good food quickly.
If you can lift heavy things, you can make money as a mover. This could be on your own if you have access to a truck, but most likely you’ll find work for a moving company. The average pay for movers is around $13.33 an hour. Be sure to use proper lifting techniques, even at a younger age, to avoid injury. Your older self will thank you later.
You could also make money in your neighborhood or city doing odd jobs for people. This could include a number of the jobs listed above as well as general clean up and maintenance projects. Pay will depend on the specific job required.
Theme Park Attendant
A fun way to make money this summer is working at an amusement park. Jobs include working retail in souvenir shops, food service, cleaning crew, games and arcades, and even working on rides. The average pay for a theme park worker is $13 an hour.
Trampoline Park Worker
Trampoline parks are one of the most popular entertainment options for families the past few years. The number of parks continues to grow. Job duties at a trampoline park can include cashier and registration, cleaning and sanitizing, and being a floor/court monitor and party hosting. Pay depends on the specific trampoline park. The average pay for a Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park employee is $11.05.
Another good job is as a court runner or legal runner for a law firm. This is basically errand work so they can focus on the more important work. Much of the work is picking up and delivering legal documents that can’t be faxed or emailed. It also involves coffee runs and jobs of that nature. The average pay for a court runner is $15.28 an hour.
If you want a quiet job, being a library page is a good choice for teens. Pages are responsible for sorting and shelving library materials such as books, movies, magazines, and more. The average pay for a library page is $9.90 an hour. If you are looking for a job with tons of hours to work, this might not be the best option. Typical page jobs offer 12-15 hours a week.
If you love photography, why not get a job working as a photography assistant. This could be for a photography studio or for an independent photographer. Jobs include working with clients, prepping for photo shoots, and more. Although you may not actually get to do much photography yourself, you can learn the ins and outs of the business as an assistant. The average pay for a photography assistant is $17.16 an hour.
Make money this summer cleaning houses. This can be done through a cleaning service or on your own. The average pay for a house cleaner is $11.11 an hour. Each house and its level of dirtiness is different. Also, they may expect a cleaning job to be done in a specific amount of time.
Gas Station Attendant
Another business that often hires teens is gas stations. Most gas stations don’t offer full-service options like in the past. Duties mostly include cleanup and cashier work. The average pay for gas station attendants is $9.61 an hour. This is similar to retail except for your selling Mountain Dew, coffee, and gasoline.
Another great job possibility this summer is working as a personal assistant. Many business owners are looking for help in organizing their life and doing the mundane tasks that keep them for their real work. The average pay for a personal assistant is $14.93 an hour. This could be an amazing job or a nightmare, depending on the person who hires you.
Start Your Own Business
Perhaps you have an entrepreneurial spirit and want to create your own business. That’s a great idea! Find something you love to do that can also make you money and go for it. Do your research, find clients, and market your services. How much you make depends on the type of business and how much work you put into your business. Lots of teens have created their own businesses and are making money.
Maybe you are asking yourself why you should get a job this summer. You could spend your summer sitting around your house relaxing or hanging out with your friends. There will always be time for those things. Here are some reasons to get a job this summer:
Earn Money: Simple as that. It’s hard to earn money without a job. Plus, it’s nice to have your own money instead of bumming it off your parents all the time.
Save for College: College is expensive. If you aren’t earning a scholarship and don’t want huge student loan debts later, start saving money for college expenses now.
Gain Experience: Another great reason to get a job is to start gaining work experience. It will look good on your resume plus it also helps develop job and life skills that will help down the road.
Buy Stuff: It’s nice to be able to have money to buy your own stuff sometimes. Whether that is something like a new cell phone or close or something big like a car, having a job will help you pay for what you want or need.
Have fun: Summer is great for spending time hanging out with friends or a significant other. Use some of your earnings for dates, going to the mall or movies, eating out, and more.
What to Look for in a Summer Job
What are you looking for in a summer job? It’s not necessary to know the answer in order to get a job. It helps, though, to know what you want to get out of your job.
Do you want to make a lot of money? If that’s the case, you’ll need to think about what kind of jobs you apply for. Not all of them pay well (more than minimum wage) or offer the number of hours you would like.
Is having flexible hours important to you? Then it’s important to find a job or employer that offers flexibility when it comes to your schedule. Teens often have to fit in other things like vacations, camp, and sports into their summer. Having a flexible job allows you to work and still fit in the rest of your life.
What about finding a job that relates to a career field of interest? This isn’t always easy to find, but if you can get a summer job related to your desired career, you are one step ahead of everyone else. You gain experience at a young age and it can also help confirm whether that’s the right career path for you. If that’s not important, then any job will give you work experience.
Your job search might get easier if you know what you are looking for. Even knowing what you aren’t looking for will narrow down things and probably keep you for getting a job you hate.
How to Land a Good Summer Job
Most teens have never been taught life skills like applying for a job. That’s unfortunate. It’s an important skill that most people will eventually need. What’s important when it comes to communicating with a potential employer? How do you get their attention? How do you land an interview? Every business has their hiring process so it’s difficult to give you a blueprint for what to do to land a job. With that said, here are some general tips for trying to land a summer job:
For some businesses, it’s just a matter of walking in and asking for an application and filling it out. You don’t have to wait until you see a sign or advertisement that they are hiring. Sometimes it’s just about being at the right place at the right time and putting yourself out there.
Many businesses have job applications posted on their websites. If that’s the case print one out and fill it out ahead of time. Sometimes you can submit them online too. The drawback to filling out an online application is that it’s easy for you to just become a number to a potential employer. It’s hard to stand out unless your application is full of attention grabbers like relevant work experience. Chances are you don’t have that yet.
Regardless of whether you fill out an application online or not,..
Feeling frustrated when it comes to money in your relationship? Often, it’s easier to sweep things under the rug than have those tough financial discussions with your partner.
Or maybe the talks themselves aren’t difficult, but it’s tough to keep track of all the little details that make up your financial life.
You’d rather be enjoying your time with your loved ones, not checking to make sure the bills are paid or nagging them for going over budget. This is where the new financial app
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Designed specifically for couples, Zeta is 100% free and allows for improved financial communication between you and your partner without sacrificing privacy.
Here’s how it works:
What is Zeta?
Zeta is both a website and app (available for iOs and Android) that is designed for money management. Like other money management apps, Zeta connects with your bank accounts and other financial institutions. What makes Zeta different from similar tools is the fact that you sign up with your significant other, and you can track your finances together.
The web app allows you to share your finances with your sweetheart, track your overall net worth, review your monthly spending, and get targeted advice on how to improve your joint finances.
What’s more, each member of the couple has 100% control over how much they share with their partner. For instance, if your business account is at the same bank as your personal account, you can choose to only share your personal banking information with your spouse.
This means that Zeta is a great choice for couples who maintain separate accounts but want to coordinate their financial decisions. It also makes for an easy management tool even if you do have completely merged finances.
The best part is that Zeta’s core app is completely free. While the company plans to offer paid opt-in services in the future, they are committed to keeping the main app 100% fee-free.
Learn more about Zeta here.
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Signing Up with Zeta
Signing up for the program is easy. The site recommends that one member of the couple sign up first. Once that is done, you can then invite your significant other to join. The process makes it simple to link your accounts together so that you can each see what the other is doing financially.
You always have complete control over what you share, so you can still keep some of the mystery alive if you’re trying to plan a surprise party for your sweetheart or if you simply want to keep some of your non-shared finances completely personal.
Zeta takes your comfort level with sharing very seriously. That means that whenever either partner adds an account, they have the option of marking the account either personal or shared. If it’s a shared account, then all of the information is automatically exposed to both partners.
Side note: I appreciate how Zeta uses the word “exposed” in their promotional literature, rather than “shared.” Zeta clearly wants their tool to be used by couples who recognize just how intimate sharing finances can be–and why you need to be careful who you are financially vulnerable with. I’ve written more on Zeta’s commitment to your security below.
Even if you mark an account as personal rather than shared, you can still decide whether to keep them entirely secret or expose some information to your partner. If you do decide to share your personal accounts, Zeta will only share balances, not transactions, with your partner.
When you sign up, you are prompted to link your bank and other financial accounts. Zeta supports over 10,000 banks in the US & Canada. These include some of the biggest heavy hitters in North American banking (think Chase, Bank of America, and the like), as well as online services like Paypal and Venmo. This means you are likely to find all of your financial institutions represented.
Once you have signed up and linked your financial accounts, Zeta gets to work in helping you get on the same page.
To start, you can create shared and individual budgets to stay on top of your finances. Zeta then breaks down your finances across those shared and individual pools of money. You get to customize what you track in your budgets, rather than have to use a cookie cutter budget.
Zeta also lets you tag your partner on specific transactions or split a purchase to keep a tally. The memo function in the app allows you to ask questions or keep notes about specific transactions. All of these tools do a great job of making sure you don’t have to remember (and argue about) who paid for dinner out last week and if your partner has already reimbursed you for his half of the utility bill.
Speaking of bills, the app also helps you keep tabs on your bills and will send you reminders to pay, ending those inevitable “I thought you were going to pay that bill!” arguments.
Finally, you and your partner can set and track your financial goals, individually and as a couple. The app will let you effortlessly keep track of how close you are to your goals. This is a wonderful way to motivate yourselves since you’ll be seeing the progress you’re making as a couple. It can also help you feel closer since you will be working together on a future you both care about.
Coming together and agreeing on a household budget is extremely important for getting ahead financially. This is where you start working together as a team, rather than as two separate individuals. Take some time to discuss the future and the past. What are your money dreams, and your financial hang-ups?
A few good questions to ask yourself and your partner:
How do you feel about having a budget?
How much debt do you have?
How big of an emergency fund do you feel comfortable with?
How much money can we each spend before having to consult the other person?
What discretionary spending would you hate to give up? (ex, happy hour with co-workers, Sunday brunch, or a hobby)
What discretionary spending would you be willing to give up to meet other goals or if things got tight?
How will we pay for large purchases? (ex, take debt or save up over time and pay cash)
What do you want your retirement to look like, and have you started saving?
Zeta’s program has a 20-minute budget builder tool that will help you and your beloved craft a shared monthly budget.
Provided you have the income and expense information you need, it will take you 20 minutes or less to create your shared budget on Zeta. The budget builder is similar to any number of budgeting tools and apps out there. However, crafting your budget together makes it yet another way Zeta can bring you and your partner closer together. Instead of being the source of friction and resentment, Zeta’s budget builder can help money become something that strengthens your bond.
Security with Zeta
Zeta takes your security seriously, in more than one way. To start, they reassure users that their financial information is secure. Zeta even offers a Security Manifesto on their website which clarifies that the program does not store logins for your financial institutions. Zeta does this to avoid becoming a target for potential hackers.
Instead, the program securely connects to your financial institutions using a third-party tool called Plaid. In addition, all passwords are encrypted just in case of hacking.
Finally, Zeta follows a two-step authentication process with your partner before exposing what you’ve chosen to share with them, just to be sure that your information is only shared with people you have approved.
Sign up free today.
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Zeta Understands the Risks of Financial Abuse
Zeta does not (and can’t!) move money around on your behalf. This means your money is safe from both hackers and the possibility of an abusive partner. If you do need to shut off your partner’s access to your financial information, Zeta has a “breakup” feature. This instantly cuts off your partner’s access.
The breakup feature shows that Zeta has done the tough work of thinking through all the potential security problems. The worst security issues often come from “inside the house” so to speak. So it’s good to know that Zeta recognizes that and protects its users with the breakup option.
The Bottom Line on Zeta
The ways that couples handle their finances are almost as varied as the couples themselves. From keeping everything completely separate to merging it all to having yours-mine-ours accounts, what works for each couple is specific to the couple.
What makes Zeta shine is that it is set up to handle whatever couple money strategy you might have. It also recognizes the importance of keeping some financial information private, even within a marriage, and it allows couples to share what they are comfortable with.
Zeta makes it possible to merge what’s shared, protect what’s personal, and work together to make your joint money work harder for you both.
Freelance jobs have many benefits and opportunities. Freelancing allows you to set your own rates and have more flexibility and control over your time. As you get more established, you can control who you work for and exactly what kind of work you do. That sort of freedom is not found in many W-2 jobs.
If you are looking to get into freelancing, here is a list of the 30 highest paying freelance jobs:
Freelance Writing Jobs
Easily the granddaddy of all freelance fields, freelance writing is big enough to get the attention of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which estimated that 64 percent of writers in the US were freelance writers in 2016.
Salaries vary wildly, as they do in most freelance fields. The average salary for a freelance writer is $63,830. However, there are plenty of freelance writers earning six figures. Another advantage of freelance writing is the number of individual specialties. Let’s look at some of those specialties.
Freelance writers can make great money writing articles for websites and magazines, depending on the subject. Higher paying genres include personal finance, real estate, and digital marketing.
Another way to make money writing is writing for medium to large blogs. As a blogger grows a website beyond their own writing capacity they will often seek help from freelance writers to fill the content gaps.
Technical writers spend their time writing materials like how-to guides, white papers, instruction manuals, and journal articles. They have the ability to communicate complex technical information easily.
Ghostwriting is another form of freelance writing. With ghostwriting, you are writing for someone in their voice. You don’t get credit for the work. This could be for a blogger or a prominent business person. Many companies have blogs on their websites and are looking for help writing content that matches their leaderships’ voice. Often, businesses will often pay a premium for ghostwriting services.
If you’ve ever been to a company’s website, they have text on most pages of their site. This could be text that explains their services, shares the company’s history, answers frequently asked questions, etc. That is copy. Copywriters write copy for websites, advertisements, marketing materials, and more.
SEO Content Writing
SEO is search engine optimization. You can make money writing SEO content for any type of online content. The goal is to write content that appeals to readers but also is optimized to rank higher in search engines like google. Ranking higher in search engines is important to companies and website owners and they are willing to pay for content that reaches that goal.
Not only can you make money writing for website, blogs, and magazines, but you can also make money as an editor. Not every company or website has a full-time editor on staff. Editors wear many hats including reading all content, fact-checking sources, correcting grammar and spelling, formatting, partnering with writers as well as website owners, and much more.
If you have artistic and creative ability, you can make great money on the freelance market. There are tons of opportunities to use your artistic abilities to make money and build a freelance business. What are the most popular freelance creative careers?
Graphic and Web Designer
This is an area of freelance growth where it isn't uncommon for freelancers to work for other freelancers. As people make that difficult choice to go out on their own, they realize the importance of a personal website and the need for an expert who can both design a website and occasionally make updates or fixes.
Expertise in animation is increasingly helpful in this field, which is expected to grow at an 8% clip in the 10-year period ending in 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Photography is used everywhere. Advertising. Websites. Billboards. A great way to make money as a photographer is to sell photos to stock photo websites. This could also include photographing events like corporate functions, parties, and weddings. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, “Employment of photographers is projected to decline 6 percent from 2016 to 2026. Salaried jobs may be more difficult to find as more companies contract with freelancers rather than hire their own photographers.”
Next time you watch TV, pay attention to how many commercials utilize voice over work. It’s a lot. That doesn’t include online content like audiobooks, video games, YouTube videos, podcast intros, radio advertisements, and more. The average pay rate for voice over artists is $39.54/hour. If you have a clear, articulate voice and excellent enunciation, you can make great money as a voice over artist.
Do you have skills editing video and audio content? If so, companies and website owners are always looking for help in these areas. Whether you are involved in the process from the beginning or just editing recorded content, there is money to be made. Larger YouTube channels and podcasts hire freelance help to edit and produce video and audio content. The average salary for a freelance audio producer is $60,752.
Freelance Marketing Jobs
Marketing is an important aspect of any successful business. Every company and entrepreneur needs to market itself. Because of that, there is an opportunity to enter the world of marketing without working becoming a full-time employee. Check out some ways freelancers can make money with their marketing skills.
Social Media Manager
Are you familiar with all of the social media platforms? If so, becoming a social media manager is a great freelance option. This involves managing, scheduling, and updating all of your client’s social media accounts. From creating captivating profiles to posting the right content, social media manager can be a demanding job, but one that can pay well. The average salary for a social media manager is $49,310
Public Relations Manager
Public relations is a huge career field, covering many different tasks. It’s also a field where freelance consultants can make great money. Skills needed include writing, marketing, researching, communication, management, negotiating, and more. Among their many roles, PR managers help create effective PR strategies, build partnerships, and seek out opportunities for their clients. The average salary for a public relations manager is $64,828.
Branding is an important part of any marketing strategy. It’s more than a logo or catchphrase. Branding managers help capture the vision of a company, entrepreneur or specific project. You also need the ability to market products or services. The average salary for a branding strategist is $60,941.
Looking for a flexible work situation? Freelance opportunities are growing every year. Here’s a huge list of freelance jobs, including what they pay.
If you have a business background, there is money to be made as a freelancer. This includes administrative roles, customer service, sales, and more technical business careers. Let’s look at the more popular freelance business jobs.
If you have a business background, you can make money as a freelance business consultant. They work with clients on everything business related. This includes planning, training, strategy, negotiating, and financial advice. The average salary for a business consultant is $71,895.
Virtual assistants are becoming popular to have for small business owners and entrepreneurs. VAs manage administrative tasks, freeing up their clients to focus elsewhere. They handle duties like scheduling appointments, answering emails, booking travel, organizing, transcription, and more. The average pay for a Virtual Assistant is $15.63 per hour.
Freelance sales representatives generate leads for clients. Most of the time this involves internet sales, email marketing, and affiliate marketing. Additionally, previous sales and marketing experience is also helpful. According to Glassdoor, the average salary for a sales rep is $59,651.
Data entry job opportunities are very common for freelancers. Work mostly involves typing information into electronic formats for clients. Previous experience isn’t normally required, but the ability to type at least 30 to 40 words per minute is desired by most clients. The average pay rate for a data entry clerk is $12.81 an hour.
Particularly as it gets closer to tax time, this becomes a freelance job in demand. Freelance accountants, CPAs, and tax consultants can land jobs by underbidding other companies or can win contract jobs for companies who don't want to turn down work during the busy tax season. The average salary for a freelance tax professional is $27,950.
This is another job where employers have discovered that hiring freelancers cuts costs. The freelancer is paid the same or even slightly less than a full-time employee, but doesn't get benefits–which on average are about 30 percent of an average employee's salary. It involves work transcribing patient histories, medical report and regular correspondence. Some freelance transcriptionists can work full-time from home while others take assignments on a contract basis and work for several companies at the same time. The average pay rate for a freelance medical transcriptionist is $15.36/hour.
Demand for translators comes from several areas. International companies with offices in the U.S., or vice-versa, often need translators who can convert business journals and other publications into other languages, as well as technical manuals and other business-related publications.
Additionally, websites hoping to pick up a market share in other countries need their information translated. Most jobs in this field are performed on a contract basis. The average salary for a freelance translator is $51,629.
Freelance Management Jobs
Management is a great skill to possess. It’s a skill that gets rewarded with great salaries usually. What types of management jobs are available for freelancers? Check out some great freelance management opportunities.
A project manager is simply someone who leads projects on behalf of clients. They see or provide the big picture, while also being able to focus on all of the details of the project at hand. Project managers need to be excellent communicators and good at delegating. Conflict resolution, negotiation, motivation, and multitasking are also important skills to possess. The average salary for a project manager is $79,756.
Digital Marketing Manager
Digital marketing is an important part of any modern business. More companies are seeking outside help in this area instead of hiring full-time employees. Digital marketing managers help to design and manage ad campaigns for companies and entrepreneurs. The average salary for a digital marketing manager is $66,597.
There are millions of websites today and website owners are looking for help to run the day-to-day business of their sites. Responsibilities of a website manager could include:
Websites are often monetized by becoming affiliates for various products and services. Affiliate managers help website owners organize, track, and expand affiliate programs to generate more revenue. The average salary for an affiliate manager is $52,645.
Freelance Developer Jobs
The world revolves around technology. Because of this, freelancers with an IT background can make great money using their tech skills. Let’s look at some of the more lucrative freelance development jobs.
Mobile App Developer
App development is a rapidly growing market for freelancers. Almost everyone has a mobile phone and uses multiple apps daily. It’s everyday life for most people. To become a mobile app developer, having a Computer Science or Information Systems degree is ideal. You must have in-depth knowledge of various computer languages such as Java, HTML, C++, MySQL, PHP, and Objective-C. The average salary for a mobile app developer is $71,669.
The gaming world has exploded with the emergence of new gaming technologies and eSports leagues. Video game development requires skills similar to mobile app development. Game development is also quite similar to app development. You must be familiar with the various gaming software development kits. Prior experience is also plus for freelance game developers. The average salary for a video game developer is $111,278.
Tips for Finding High Paying Freelance Jobs
We’ve explored many of the freelance careers available. How can you start building a successful business and land high paying freelance jobs? Here are five tips for building your freelance business:
1. Market yourself
In order to attract potential clients, you need to find ways to show off your skills. A great way to do this is to create your own website and use it as an online portfolio. You can list your skills and share your previous work as well as clients you’ve worked with in the past. Having a resume you can send clients is helpful too.
2. Do research
Take time to research your freelance niche to see what types of jobs are available, pay rates, and what clients are looking for usually. It’s important to understand your market in order to find success as a freelancer. Lastly, research the skills you will need to be successful. Work to improve your abilities so you stand out.
3. Find a mentor
Having a mentor can shorten the learning curve as a freelancer. You need someone with experience you can learn from. This could be a family member, a boss or co-worker, a professor or teacher, or someone else. Also, you may find working under someone else first will help build the skills and knowledge you need to go off on your own later.
Start working to build a network of people. This could be people like family, friends, colleagues or just an acquaintance. Don’t just add them to your contacts either to make yourself feel good. Provide value to people. Work for free or low pay to build a reputation and a portfolio. Ask people you refer you to people they know as well.
5. Start pitching clients
Now that you’ve established your rates, developed a portfolio or resume, and have worked to build your knowledge and experience, it’s time to look for work. Search online job sites for work. Reach out to local businesses or online businesses. Email pitches to potential clients. Start small and work your way up to higher paying freelance jobs as you gain experience. Ask for referrals from clients if they are satisfied with your work.
Top Freelance Job Websites
Finding freelance jobs can be challenging at the start. One way to find jobs is through freelance job websites. Some of them are specific to certain freelance niches. Others are general job websites. Keep in mind, however, that there are usually membership costs involved with setting up an account on most job websites. Here are some of the best freelance job websites to check out.
Two of the most popular freelance websites, oDesk and eLance, combined and became Upwork. It’s one of the largest collections of freelance jobs in the world. Create an account and a profile and start searching for freelance projects. Upwork is relatively easy to use and allows you to communicate with potential clients directly, share files, and get paid. Most likely you will have to start with lower paying gigs until you build your portfolio. Then you can find high paying freelance jobs.
Fiverr is another great site for building up your portfolio. It gets its name from the fact that every job starts at $5. However, you can set up tiered services, charging more for more premium projects.
Freelancer offers a variety of freelance opportunities for just about any niche. Some projects are paid hourly, but many are run as contests where you compete with other freelancers.
Guru is a great site to find high paying freelance jobs. It’s easy to create a profile and search for jobs. You can submit quotes and communicate with potential clients. You can set up multiple payment options including pay by milestones, tasks, projects or hourly.
What’s great about SolidGigs is that they search most popular freelance job sites to find the very best job listings. Sign up and they email you a curated job list. This saves freelancers the time of combing through hundreds of the wrong jobs. You can focus on high paying freelance jobs. SolidGigs also has a resource library and tools to help freelancers grow their business.
FlexJobs is designed for people who work remotely and want flexible gigs. You can filter your job search by type of freelance job to save time. Sign up for a free trial and check it out.
People Per Hour
People Per Hour offers freelance opportunities globally. One nice feature is you can browse the site and look at jobs for free. You’ll need to create an account to apply for freelance jobs and communicate with potential clients.
This post is brought to you by Puls. While this is a sponsored post, all content and opinions expressed here are my own.
I recently purchased a Ring doorbell–you know, the doorbell with a camera and speaker tied to your home WiFi–to replace my old, standard doorbell.
I was excited about experiencing the benefits of the new gadget, but not so excited about installing the doorbell itself. I’ve got a long list of honey do’s right now and this was just one more item to add to the list. No thanks!
That’s when I remembered my friend Ben had just joined a new company called Puls that does home tech installation, among other things. I emailed Ben and since he’s their marketing guy he offered to waive the Puls install fee and sponsor a review.
I now have a new doorbell installed at my front door (watch out, package thieves), and I’m back to share my experience with Puls’ service.
In this Puls review, you’ll find all that you need to know if you want to use this helpful service.
How Puls Works
When you log onto the Puls website, you are offered a variety of services that Puls technicians offer.
According to the Puls website, they are in the business of “fixing anything with an ‘on' switch.” That means any time you feel overwhelmed by a leaking washer, a broken refrigerator, the mounting system for your new TV, a smart phone on the fritz, or installing the smart home device you've just purchased, Puls can help you–quickly and easily.
The service costs are clearly laid out on the site so you know exactly what to expect. Once you have decided on the service you want, confirm a place and time for a technician to come to you. Often, you can expect a visit within an hour. The expert techs bring the parts and skills to complete each job on the spot, which means you're not stuck going back and forth trying to find the right parts. You also don't have to worry about shipping smart devices somewhere to get them fixed.
After the technician completes the job, you pay via credit card, Paypal, or with cash. Since you knew the pricing upfront, there are no surprises, and you can move on to the next item on your Honey-Do list (which is hopefully watching the game with your Honey).
Puls employs 4,000 fully vetted technicians across the nation–from Los Angeles, CA, to Raleigh, NC, and hundreds of cities in between. Unfortunately, they are not available in every market, and you'll be prompted to provide your zip code when you book a service, which is the only way you determine if you can book with Puls.
Puls got its start providing repairs for cell phones and tablets, but it has become so much more. From mounting a television to repairing a wonky dishwasher, Puls technicians can help you make sure everything in your home is installed, integrated, and working correctly. You can call Puls for any of these needs:
Plumbing services (including kitchen, bathroom, laundry, pumps, rough plumbing, water or gas lines, drains, water heaters, and installation for when you have the part but not the know-how)
Smartphone and tablet repair
Security system setup
The recently launched home appliance repair is sure to be a game changer. No longer will you have to call the manufacturer of your misbehaving appliance and take a day off work to wait for the repair tech. Instead, you can schedule a Puls technician to come take a look at your ailing appliance and get it fixed–potentially on the same day it breaks. The service is available for a number of the biggest names in appliances, including GE, Whirlpool, KitchenAid, Maytag, Sharp, and others.
And you don't have to worry that it will cost a mint to repair your appliance. Your technician will fully inspect your appliance and provide a quote for the recommended repair. The inspection is free if you choose to move forward with the recommendation from Puls. If you decline the recommended repair, Puls will ask you to pay $79 to cover the cost of the inspection.
All of Puls' services are backed with a minimum 90-day guarantee, so you can feel comfortable knowing that your fixed appliance will stay fixed and your newly installed smart doorbells or TV mounts will keep doing their jobs well.
You don't need to worry about who will be arriving at your home. All Puls technicians have been carefully vetted and screened. The company only employs the top 10% of technicians who apply, and they require a comprehensive background check for every technician. So you can feel secure in letting Puls take care of your home maintenance needs.
Not only are the technicians experts in their fields, but you can also count on them to come as soon as the same day. Puls has technicians with the right parts for each job available from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. local time, seven days a week, including holidays. The technology behind the Puls platform allows the program to quickly find a relevant Puls technician and match them to your job.
If you don't need the Puls technician to arrive on the same day then you can choose a one-hour time slot that is convenient for you. You don't have to hang around during a 4-hour window like with most companies.
While you are welcome to watch your Puls technician work, you can also leave them do their thing.
Puls may not be your cheapest option for handling maintenance, repairs, and installations around your house. Prices range from $20 for a simple television installation, up to $900 for a full garage door opener replacement. The listed prices on the website are definitely higher than what you'll pay if you DIY.
But Puls is offering you convenience, a quick turnaround, and full transparency. Getting a repair or installation done the same day or at your convenience is certainly worth a little more. And the time you save by not doing it yourself is definitely a major plus. Add in the fact that fee transparency allows you to know ahead of time what costs to expect, and it's clear that the Puls service is unique among home repair offerings.
Nearly every Yelp review and other local reviews of the Puls service extols the friendliness and expertise of the technicians who arrive to take care of your maintenance and repairs. However, when it comes to phone repair, some reviewers have been unhappy with the parts the Puls technicians have used.
Ben told me that the company recently got approved to participate in Apple's original parts purchasing and service provider program for iPhone repair, which gives them access to the highest quality parts. Puls is moving toward using OEM parts that were specifically for the device whenever possible.
While scheduling a Puls technician went without a single hitch for me (see below), some customers have been unhappy with their scheduling experience. The most common complaint is that there are no technicians available at the time the customer chooses. Some reviewers have also complained about no-shows from their technicians. I suspect that this issue will get better as Puls grows and has more technician coverage of more areas.
It is also clear from Puls' responses to these kinds of complaints that show the company is dedicated to fixing the problem and streamlining the process.
My Experience Using Puls’ Smart Home Installation Service
I had a pleasant experience with Puls but I’ve got a few suggestions. Here’s how it went down:
Booking a Service with Puls
First, I went to the Puls website, www.puls.com, and clicked on “Book a Service”, then “Smart Home Installation”.
Next, I gave Puls my zip code and selected the number of devices I’d be installing.
Once I did this, I was shown the price of the service. It was $79 (price may vary, based on your service and zip code).
Next, I was given the chance to book a time, share my address, and create an account. I was impressed by two things here:
The first available day was the next day (I was visiting their website at 10:50 PM)! Most install or repair service calls can’t be booked till several days, if not weeks out. So it was nice that Puls had someone available so soon. I’ve since tested the service for same day service and yes, you can get service on the same day!
The time slots were just one hour, not three hours or six hours or all day, heaven forbid. Knowing that I only need to set aside one hour for the install is super helpful given my busy schedule.
I ended up choosing a date/time that was about a week out. I had some travel and only had a small window where I could be home to meet the technician.
Next, I received the first of two emails I would receive from Puls, stating that they had received my request and that they were looking for a specific service technician to come do the job at my preferred time.
The email restated my desired date/time and gave me the chance to click a button to change the time if needed. The email also included a heads up that I’d be receiving a text from Puls with technician details.
A minute later I got a text from Puls stating the same things: they received my request and will confirm the appointment asap. I went to bed feeling good about the situation.
Appointment Confirmation from Puls
The next day at 6 PM, someone from Puls called my phone. I didn’t pick up. They left a message stating that they were ready to confirm my appointment and just had a question on which specific type of Ring Doorbell they would be installing: outside or inside.
I called them back and confirmed my appointment. But I forgot to discuss the specific Ring type. This ended up not being an issue, but I'd advise being very clear with their call center teams.
I then received my second email from Puls stating the appointment was confirmed and that my technician would be Robert [Last Name]. I appreciated Puls sharing the specific name of the technician. If I were to order this service for my wife or Mom, I would be much more comfortable with a specific name like this.
My only suggestion: I wish this confirmation email had a “add to your calendar” feature. I manually created the appointment on my Google calendar.
The Installation by Robert, Puls Technician
Around 20 minutes before my scheduled service time, I received a text from Puls stating that the technician, Robert was on his way. The text included an ETA and a link to view a map showing where he was. How cool is that?!
I got a second text when Robert arrived. I met him at the front door and we chatted about what he’d be doing. He had a few questions about what exactly I wanted with the install. After that, I left him to do his work.
Ten minutes later, Robert was done and I had a new doorbell. Robert took some time to answer some questions I had. He also explained how to use the doorbell. He has one himself and was able to give me some detailed suggestions about using it and improving the WiFi connection in my home.
Side note: Normally, I’d first try to do a job like this myself. In this case, I’m glad I had Robert here to do it. The wires connecting the doorbell were super short and he had to extend the wiring to make it work. I don’t have electrical wiring laying around and I would have had to head to the hardware store to get that and tap into some of my old electrician skills from back in my FFA days to complete the job. No thanks. I’m so thankful I tried Puls for this.
I received one last text with a link to pay from Puls once Robert closed out the install. I like that the link to pay comes directly from Puls and I don’t have to worry about paying Robert directly. After that, Robert and I shook hands and he was on his way. I had a new Ring Doorbell installed and felt pleased with the Puls experience. We’ve been enjoying the Ring for a week now and no issues.
Would I Recommend Puls?
Absolutely. Puls is great for anyone not comfortable doing their own home installs and repairs. Puls is also great for anyone looking to save time. This is where they shine.
Could you find more inexpensive help? Possibly. But Puls gives you a solid system and technology for getting the job done quickly, with confidence, and without much hassle.
Have you had any experience using Puls? If so, tell us about it in the comments!
Scott Bennett and Ronen Akiva founded Skratch.co with the understanding of how important income and work are for teens.
When they were growing up, both Bennett and Akiva learned the value of work and the joy of earning their own money. They wanted to provide a way for modern teens to learn those lessons, even if traditional part-time work is hard to come by.
After seeing how tough it can be for teens to find their first work, Bennett and Akiva created Skratch.
This app helps connect teens with gig opportunities in their neighborhoods. The app not only benefits teens, but it also helps working adults find the help they need and brings neighbors together. Skratch is currently only availabel in Dallas.
Here's what you need to know about Skratch:
How Skratch Works
There are three ways you might interact with the Skratch app: as a teen job-seeker, as a sponsor (a.k.a. potential employer), or as a teen parent. It all starts with downloading the app from iTunes or Google Play. Then, depending on your role, the app will work slightly differently.
Teens aged 14-19 set up their account, and select which skills they offer. This allows them to be notified of future gigs that fit their skills. The services Skratch offers fall under one of eight categories:
Family Assistance (Cleaning, organizing, teaching small children)
Media & Tech
Event Support (Help with parties or other events)
Create Your Own (For any services not otherwise listed, such as creating spreadsheets)
The wide range of services offers a number of opportunities for ambitious teens, even if they feel like they don't have “marketable skills.” Skratch does not offer babysitting services since the program encourages gig Sponsors to consider how useful a teen’s other skill sets can be.
Once a teen has set up their Skratch profile, they are notified when a sponsor has posted a nearby gig that fits their skill set. The app matches teens with potential gigs within a 10-mile radius of their home. The teen can review the gig offering and accept it.
Teens earn between $10 and $12.50 per hour for their work. All money is paid through the app directly, and Skratch sets the prices for each gig. This ensures that teens do not have to negotiate gig prices and do not have to worry about handling cash or checks when they get paid.
Sponsors can create a gig on the app by clicking on the type of service they need and filling out the details of the gig. There are some restrictions on what teens are allowed to do. Specifically, you cannot ask a teen to drive as part of your gig (although they can drive themselves to and from your gig), and the teen is not permitted to use any power tools or use ladders over 4 ft. You're also expected to provide necessary supplies, such as a leash for dog-walking or a soccer ball for helping your daughter practice, but the teen may also bring his or her own supplies as appropriate.
When you sign up with the app, you provide your credit card number. When the job is complete, your card will be charged, so you do not need to worry about payment separately. Skratch charges sponsors between $12.50 and $15 per hour depending on the gig and pays the teens between $10 and $12.50 per hour. The $2.50 difference is how the app makes its money.
You can request a specific teen for a gig. For instance, let's say you want to make piano lessons a weekly recurring gig, and you and your child loved the teen who came the first day. When you set up your gig, search for your preferred teen, and the notification will go only to that teen. In addition, once you have booked a gig once, you can easily rebook through the app, keeping all the information the same except for the date and time.
For Parents of Teens
Parents of teens are kept 100% in the loop throughout the process. During registration, teens must provide parent information, including a parent's email address and phone number. At the end of registration, the program sends an email to the parent, requesting consent to allow their teen to work on Skratch. From this point forward, parents will be notified via email of every gig their teen accepts. You'll receive the following information in these emails:
Skratch takes the safety of teen workers very seriously. They have a number of safety features in place to ensure that teens are having an excellent first work experience. Parents can also feel comfortable with their kids working around the neighborhood.
This starts with phone and OTP verification to ensure that there are no fake users on the program. In addition, every user who is 17 years old or older is screened on the sex offender registry using their registered physical address for verification. Skratch must clear the address before users are allowed to use the program on either side of a work transaction.
On the teen worker side, no teen under the age of 18 may participate without parental consent, and Skratch keeps parents notified about their teens' activities. This means a Skratch parent can always know where their teen is anytime they are working on a Skratch gig.
Connecting with Community Groups
One of the ingenious ways that Skratch has set itself apart is in how it connects with potential users. Skratch partners with organizations to connect community members in ways that benefit teens and whole communities. This technology allows each partnership to be customized to an organization’s needs. Potential partners include schools, athletic programs, non-profits, community centers, businesses and more.
For example, I was delighted to see BBYO (B'nai Brith Youth Organization) among Skratch's group partnerships. BBYO was an important part of my teen years. It's a smart organization to partner with, as all of the teens I know in BBYO are the kind of responsible go-getters I'd like to have working for me.
Other community groups that currently partner with Skratch include churches, private schools, YMCA, and a senior living center. Partnering with these groups adds another layer of community and security to the app. Such partnerships reinforce the connections between teens and sponsors.
Is Skratch in My Area?
Skratch is currently only available in the Dallas area, although the founders want to expand over time. Bennett and Akiva want to make sure their growth is gradual and consistently creates the same value with each community they add. (I'll be waiting patiently until they expand up to Milwaukee.)
The Bottom Line on Skratch
Finding work as a teenager has never been easy, but it's particularly challenging in today's part-time economy. Skratch offers teens the ability to find work that matches their unique skill sets. Not only will this help them learn the value of work and money, but it also sets them up for success in a gig-based future.
Learning more about your business credit is not as simple as it is for your personal credit. It's a totally different system for business credit and there are fewer services available for checking it.
Thankfully, Nav.com has come along to help small business owners (and individuals) better understand their credit. Our Nav review explains how it works and why you might consider checking your score with them.
Understanding Business Credit Scoring
It's important for small business owners to keep an eye on their business credit. Your ability to access a loan or favorable payment terms depends on a good score. But the world of business credit reporting is different from personal credit reporting.
Let's start with a quick breakdown of business credit scoring:
Credit reporting agencies
Most consumers are familiar with the personal credit reporting agencies of Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. The business credit reporting agencies are Dun & Bradstreet, Equifax, and Experian.
The Dun & Bradstreet scoring system is called Paydex which ranges from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating better credit-worthiness. Experian's small business scoring IntelliScore also ranges from 0-100, and it is typically used by lenders to evaluate your business for loans and lines of credit. Finally, the FICO Liquid Credit Small Business Scoring ranges from 0-300, and it is a required score for some Small Business Administration loans.
Fewer legal protections
While consumer credit laws allow individuals to challenge anything on their report and have incorrect negative entries removed, there are no similar laws for business credit. This means an incorrect black mark on your business credit can be difficult to remove. This is one of the reasons why it is essential to monitor your business credit.
No, Credit Karma does not report business credit. Credit Karma only reports your personal credit information. The two systems are entirely separate and your business credit does not affect your personal credit in any way.
There may be lenders who check both your business credit and your personal credit in order to issue a loan. But loans taken out in your business name are only reported to your business credit.
Free Credit Scores with Nav
Once you sign up and provide Nav with your personal and business information, the system will make a soft pull of your credit score. (This soft pull will not affect your credit in any way.) You receive the following information:
Experian Personal Score and Report Overview
Experian Business Letter Grade and Report Overview
Dun & Bradstreet Business Letter Grade and Report Overview
Experian Personal Score and Report Overview
Nav will provide you with your Experian VantageScore. VantageScore is the scoring model put together by TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian, and it mimics your FICO score. Though it is not exact, the VantageScore number gives you a good sense of what creditors see when you apply for credit.
Nav also offers you a high-level overview of your credit report. Specifically, you can see:
your payment history
number of inquiries
debt vs. income
number of score factors that are affecting your score
This kind of bird's-eye view of your Experian credit report can help you stay on top of how your consumer credit is faring.
The best part is that signing up for this free credit score and report with Nav can fill in an important blank in monitoring your credit. Nav offers the only completely free and ongoing credit monitoring services for your Experian score and report. Pairing a Nav account with a Credit Karma account gives you a completely free method of monitoring all three of your consumer credit reports.
Experian Business Letter Grade and Report Overview
If you're signing up with Nav for free access to your business credit, the information is not quite as comprehensive as it is for consumer credit. Rather than getting an approximation of your Experian IntelliScore, Nav will instead give you a letter grade from A-F to indicate how good your business credit is. (Just like in high school, A is for 90-100, B for 80-89, and so on).
The report overview also gives you some other relevant information about your business credit. You can learn how many tradelines (that is, credit cards) have been reported to Experian. You'll also find out if there are any black marks, such as bankruptcies, liens, collections, judgments, or UCC filings, against your business.
While you are not able to check things like credit utilization or look at specific accounts, the free Experian business report can give you a good basic understanding of the health of your business credit. You can always sign up for the Nav Premium option if you need more information. (More on that below).
Like the Experian business credit score, your Dun & Bradstreet score is provided as a letter grade. You also get a report offering potential negative records that may be associated with your business. There's also a helpful “Financial Details” D&B overview that gives you a few critical pieces of information, including your highest credit amount, your total debt, and your highest past due amount.
Other Free Benefits
In addition to receiving your scores, grades, and report overviews, you can also access many other great benefits for free with Nav. For instance, tips and insights into your three reports can help you make sense of the reports. There are also tools that will help you build your business credit, as well as personalized financing matches to help you find the best financing for your business needs.
Finally, your free plan gives you 24/7 monitoring and alerts. You can rest assured that you'll know if something untoward shows up on one of these three reports.
What's both unusual and commendable is the fact that Nav does not require you to put a credit card on file in order to access all of these free services. It's really free.
Signing up for free credit monitoring with Nav is actually free, with no strings attached. That makes it an excellent resource for both consumers who want a fuller picture of their creditworthiness and for entrepreneurs who want to make sure their business credit is healthy.
Consumers will find that pairing Nav with another free service like Credit Karma can be an excellent way to have a complete understanding of how creditors view you. Entrepreneurs will find that Nav gives them a good, baseline glimpse of their business credit. In either case, this is a solid free credit score option, with a good paid version available for those who need more detail.
It’s true–most people don’t enjoy doing their taxes. But with the right tax filing software, it can at least be quick and straightforward. If you’re searching for an accurate and inexpensive solution, TaxSlayer is a good option.
If you've thought about doing your own taxes this year, you’ve probably looked at different tax preparation software. Before deciding on how you will file your taxes, it’s good to take a look at several different alternatives.
To help you narrow down your choices, this TaxSlayer review will go over the software’s capabilities, ease of use, plans, and pricing, as well as some of its features. This will help you decide if it’s a good fit for your particular situation.
Read on to find out if TaxSlayer may work for preparing your tax return this year.
What is TaxSlayer?
TaxSlayer is a tax preparation software that offers affordable options for doing your own taxes. When the pro version was first introduced in 1993, it was marketed to professional tax preparers, accountants and CPAs.
Five years later, the company used the same technology to develop an individual online tax preparation software. The software allows you to file your taxes on the go from any laptop or mobile device.
How Long Does it Take to Get a Tax Refund from TaxSlayer?
Getting your tax refund with TaxSlayer can take as little as 24 hours and up to 21 days. Why such a wide range? It really depends on what option you choose to get your refund. Below are the different ways you can get your
This unique feature is basically an early tax refund anticipation loan for qualified filers using the Classic or higher versions. There are no upfront fees or interest. This type of service used to only be available when filing taxes with traditional brick-and-mortar companies such as Jackson Hewitt or H&R Block.
For those who qualify, the funds will be deposited onto a TaxSlayer prepaid debit card within as little as 24 hours of acceptance by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). There are two loan options: $500 or $1,000.
If you do end up getting a refund anticipation loan, the amount will be deducted from your tax refund and you will receive the balance. The entire process is 100 percent online and can be a great option if you need money quickly.
This option allows you to have your refund deposited directly into your checking or savings account. You can file your federal and state refund electronically and take advantage of going the direct deposit route.
It usually takes anywhere between 10 to 21 days to get your money based on the IRS and state refund cycles. This is the second fastest way to get your money if you don’t qualify for the refund advance option.
Another great option–particularly if you don’t have a bank account–is to have your refund directly deposited onto a TaxSlayer Prepaid Visa® Debit Card. With this option, you’ll have access to your funds within 21 days once the IRS accepts your return.
If you don’t have a checking or savings account, you can have a check mailed to you. Keep in mind that the check will be issued to the mailing address listed on your accepted tax return.
Going this route means you will have to wait between 18 and 28 days to get your refund in the mail.
Is TaxSlayer Easy to Use?
Overall, the tax software is fairly easy to use with a clean interface and helpful videos throughout. It offers enhanced guided navigation, which helps the user figure out what to do next when filling out the tax return information. If the program detects something incorrect when you are going through the prompts, it will highlight the error and won’t let you proceed to the next step until it’s fixed.
Of course, you want to be sure to have all necessary data before getting started filling out your return with TaxSlayer. This just helps to make your e-file smooth and seamless.
TaxSlayer’s e-file software has the ability to upload a PDF version of your previous tax returns. This can make the entire return process easier by fast filling information from past years. It also allows users to import W-2 forms–either via a photo application or through a major payroll provider.
The free version is best for simple returns. For more complex tax situations, TaxSlayer offers different solutions based on the amount of additional support you want or need when you are filing your return. All the federal forms and tax breaks are included.
TaxSlayer Plans and Pricing–How Much Does it Cost?
TaxSlayer offers five different editions for filing your tax return. All editions are comparable in features to other programs such as TurboTax. However, TaxSlayer is often cheaper, with at least one free version for those who have simple returns.
Below are the five different plans and how much you can expect to pay for each one.
Simply Free ($0)
As its name suggests, this option is completely free. As in, you can file your federal taxes and one state tax return for $0, with no hidden fees
What’s the catch? It only works for filers who use form 1040EZ–as in, they have no dependents and are filing their return with a basic W-2. For anything more complicated, you’ll need to go with one of the other options, which are very affordably priced.
If you do have a simple and straightforward return, this is definitely a good option. The software will walk you through filling out all necessary information and show your refund getting calculated in real time.
With TaxSlayer Simply Free you'll get unlimited email and phone support, which can help you with technical and basic tax advice. However, if you need access to a tax professional, you’ll need to pay for the Premium option.
If you don’t qualify for the free version, you can probably use the Classic option. It’s the most popular plan and costs only $17 for the federal return. Keep in mind that state tax returns will cost you $29 for each state.
With TaxSlayer Classic, you get access to the W-2 import option in addition to being able to import previous years’ tax return information if you're switching from another provider. The step-by-step instruction guide will take you through the entire filing process to ensure you don’t miss anything.
Just like with the Simply Free edition, there is unlimited email and phone support available to help you troubleshoot any technical difficulties or answer tax questions. This option is a good choice for most taxpayers who still have fairly basic tax returns and some experience filing on their own.
If you do have a more complicated tax return but want the ease of using online tax software, consider using TaxSlayer’s Premium option.
At $37 for a federal tax return and $29 for each state return filed, it’s still much cheaper than going to a brick-and-mortar tax preparation service such as H&R Block.
TaxSlayer Premium offers all of the features of the Classic edition but with the added support of a tax professional. You will also get live chat support for any real-time tax questions that may arise as you’re filling out your return, including technical problems.
In addition, you’ll get IRS audit assistance for three full years. This means that TaxSlayer’s enrolled agents and CPAs will help you in case of an IRS audit up to three years after you e-file your return.
If you’re self-employed, TaxSlayer offers an option to file your taxes 100 percent online for $47. This is only for federal taxes–state taxes are still $29 per state.
With TaxSlayer Self-Employed, you’ll get all of the features of the Premium edition but with added support specifically for the self-employed. This includes 1099 and Schedule C forms. You will also get access to TaxSlayer’s personalized guide to self-employed taxes.
This option also comes with a deduction finder tool that helps you reduce your liability and get all of the tax breaks you deserve. You also get access to a self-employed tax professional that can help address your own unique situation, and full support in case of an audit.
TaxSlayer Ultimate is the most expensive one that TaxSlayer offers. As the name implies, it aims to give the filers ultimate peace of mind for $57 for federal returns and $29 for each state return.
What do you get for your money? First, you get front of the line support with priority unlimited access via phone, email, and live chat.
In addition, you get audit defense, which offers complete defense and representation in the case of an IRS audit, up to three years after the IRS accepts your e-filed return. If you have any tax-specific questions, you can ask a tax professional who can help answer them.
You’ll also get a guide to the new tax law, including step-by-step education covering calculations, rates, brackets, deductions, and more. As an added bonus, you also get complete identity theft protection and restoration for one year after e-file.
TaxSlayer Review of Features and Tools
TaxSlayers offers several features and tools that can make filing your taxes a little easier. Below are highlights of some of the ways the software aims to make the process fast, easy, and hassle-free.
No Upfront Costs
TaxSlayer allows you to file your tax refund with zero out-of-pocket fees. Even if you don’t qualify for the Simply Free edition, you can file your return and pay for the filing fees out of your refund. However, this only works if you do get a federal refund.
Maximum Refund Guarantee
Worried you won’t get your maximum refund using TaxSlayer? To that end, the software offers a guarantee that you will get the maximum tax refund you are entitled to–or your money back.
To get a refund, you’ll need to show that another tax preparation software such as TurboTax shows you will get a larger refund or have a smaller tax liability using the same data.
With any version of TaxSlayer, even the free one, you get 100 percent accuracy guaranteed. This means that TaxSlayer will check your return for errors and missing data to ensure it’s accurate.
Tax Refund Calculator
If you’re looking for a way to estimate your federal income tax refund, TaxSlayer offers an online calculator that can help. Just plug in all of the required information and get an idea of how much you will get back from the IRS (or how much you will owe).
IRS Audit Assistance
All versions except for the Simply Free edition offer IRS audit assistance. TaxSlayer will work to resolve IRS inquiries regarding your federal and state return for a certain amount of time after the IRS accepts your e-file.
How long you are covered depends on which filing option you select. The Classic version offers audit defense up to one year after you file while the Ultimate version extends the coverage up to three years.
Everyone’s tax situation is a little different. This is why a tool such as the deduction finder can help you maximize your refund and get all of the tax breaks you deserve. It helps you reduce your tax liability and find all deductions that would apply to your specific filing situation.
Since filing your tax return online requires inputting a lot of personal information, security is of utmost importance. TaxSlayer has several safeguards in place to ensure your sensitive information remains protected from unauthorized access.
This includes multi-layer authentication, user information protection and a dedicated security team. In addition, TaxSlayer offers helpful information on how to recognize and avoid common tax scams.
In addition to the desktop version, you can also download TaxSlayer’s mobile app and use it to file your simple return. The app allows you to estimate your refund based on your W-2 (or paystub) and complete your e-file. It’s available for both iPhone and Android users.
However, you’ll need to sign into your account from your desktop first to use the e-file feature.
Even the free version of TaxSlayer offers technical customer service support via phone and email. However, expect to wait 24 to 48 hours for a response to your email questions.
Live chat and support from a tax professional are only available with the Premium, Self-Employed, and Ultimate editions. With these three options, you also get priority support on phone and email inquiries. If you file with Ultimate edition, you will get front-of-the-line treatment for all inquiries.
If you’ve used another tax preparation service in the past, TaxSlayer allows you to upload the return and save yourself some time. This will speed up the process by saving you a lot of data input. You can also upload your W-2 and TaxSlayer will autofill your income, wages and more.
There are definitely some advantages to using TaxSlayer to prepare your taxes. If you have an easy tax return that uses form 1040EZ, you can file your federal taxes for free regardless of income.
In addition, being able to get up to $1,000 cash advance on your refund can be a game changer for many people. Traditionally, this option was only available through in-person tax preparation services but TaxSlayer has made it possible to do 100 percent online.
With five different affordably priced service levels, TaxSlayer offers options to fit most budgets and tax preparation situations. However, keep in mind that many of the features such as live chat or access to a tax pro are limited to the paid editions.
In 2005, my best friend Erika gave birth to a gorgeous baby boy she and her husband named Isaac.
Fifteen months later, Isaac was diagnosed with autism.
While the diagnosis offered the family some reassuring context for why Isaac reacted to the world the way he did, it was also a difficult time. It was clear that this baby's future would be different from what the family had hoped for him.
Isaac is a teenager now. As a family friend, I have watched with pride as he and his parents have learned to navigate the neuro-typical world that isn't always friendly to kids on the autism spectrum. But Isaac still has a number of challenges ahead of him, not the least of which is his financial future.
The Financial Catch-22 of Disability
It is unlikely that Isaac will live independently in adulthood. This means he will probably qualify for Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid.
But the eligibility rules for both SSI and Medicaid require beneficiaries to have less than $2,000 in cash savings, retirement funds, and other items of significant value. This requirement leaves people with disabilities vulnerable because they must maintain little-to-no assets to continue to receive their necessary benefits.
It can also discourage disabled people from working, for fear of losing their benefits if their income becomes too high.
The ABLE Act of 2014
Thankfully, in 2014, the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act authorized states to establish tax-advantaged savings programs for individuals with disabilities and their families. Erika was among many parents of special needs children who cheered this news. Finally, parents like her have a way to financially prepare for their special needs kids, too.
ABLE accounts are set up under the same tax code as 529 college savings accounts. They are authorized tax-advantaged accounts to help disabled people pay for qualified disability-related expenses, and like 529 accounts, they are offered by individual states.
ABLEnow is the account offering from the state of Virginia, and it provides a number of helpful options for individuals with disabilities. Here's what you need to know about ABLE accounts in general, and the ABLEnow account in particular:
ABLE Account Basics
Any disabled individual who was diagnosed or who experienced the onset of disability prior to age 26 may be an ABLE account beneficiary. Any such disabled individuals who receive either SSI or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are automatically eligible to open an ABLE account.
If you meet the age requirement but do not receive SSI or SSDI benefits, you can still open an account if you meet Social Security's definition and criteria for significant functional limitation and also receive a certification letter from your doctor.
A beneficiary does not need to be under the age of 26 to open an ABLE account. Provided the onset of the disability occurred before age 26, you can open an account at any age.
State Administration and State Tax Benefits
Each state can offer its own ABLE account, just like with 529 accounts, but you are not required to open one in your home state. In fact, not every state has yet created their own ABLE program.
The benefit of opening a home-state account is the fact that some states offer a tax advantage to residents. Since not all states offer their own ABLE accounts, your state may give you a tax break even if you open a non-residential account from another state.
ABLE account contributions are limited to the annual IRS gift exclusion amount, which is set at $15,000 as of 2019.
In addition, ABLE account beneficiaries who are employed can make contributions beyond the $15,000 limit. That additional contribution can be as much as the beneficiaries total compensation for the year, or the poverty line for a single-person household–whichever is lower.
Federal Tax Advantages
ABLE accounts, unlike 401(k) accounts and traditional IRAs, do not allow you to deduct contributions from your federal taxes. However, the money in these accounts grows tax-free, and distributions for qualified expenses (more on that below) are also tax-free.
In addition, up to $2,000 of your contribution to an ABLE account can qualify you for the Saver's Credit. This tax break will allow you to claim the credit for 50%, 20% or 10% of the first $2,000 you contribute to a retirement account or an ABLE account. How much (if any) of this Credit you can claim depends on your Adjusted Gross Income. (Read more about this tax law and other 2019 tax laws here.)
Beneficiaries can take distributions from their ABLE account for the following qualified disability-related expenses:
Employment training and support
Personal support services
Prevention and wellness
Financial management and administrative services
Expenses for ABLE account oversight and monitoring
Basic living expenses
Funeral or burial expenses for the beneficiary
Distributions for non-qualified expenses are taxed at the beneficiary's ordinary income tax rate and subject to a 10% penalty of the amount withdrawn.
ABLEnow accounts allow those with disabilites to save up to $100,000 and still qualify for SSI. This is well above the limit of $2,000 in assets they are otherwise allowed. This is huge for anyone with a disability!
While each state's ABLE account has a different limit on how large you can allow the account to grow, there is a hard federal limit on how much you can have in an ABLE account and still qualify for SSI. That limit is $100,000.
If a beneficiary’s ABLE account exceeds $100,000, SSI payments will be suspended until the account falls back below $100,000. This means it's important to watch your ABLE account balance to ensure it does not affect the beneficiary's continued eligibility.
This is why families with the financial ability to set up a special needs trust as well as an ABLE account should do so. Money in a special needs trust does not affect SSI eligibility. If you need to plan for lifelong care for a disabled individual, combining an ABLE account with a special needs trust will provide the best financial protection.
One important thing to note is that Medicaid may request reimbursement from an ABLE account after the death of its beneficiary. IRS rules stipulate that any funds remaining in the ABLE account, after payment of all outstanding qualified disability expenses, must be used to reimburse the state Medicaid benefits that the beneficiary received.
This will only come up if the state in question requests reimbursement, but it's an important caveat to keep in mind.
ABLEnow: One Financial Solution
There are a number of ABLE account options across the country, but ABLEnow offers some great solutions for families planning for their special needs kids.
ABLEnow's Banking and Investment Options
There is no minimum required to open an account, nor is there a minimum subsequent contribution amount. But the first $2,000 contributed will be held in the deposit account. Only once you have more than $2,000 may you allocate money to other investment options. The deposit account has a modest interest rate of 0.1% for balances up to $2,000, 0.2% for balances up to $10,000, all the way up to 0.45% for balances up to $50,000.
The deposit account is through PNC bank, and it comes with a free debit card, the ABLEnow card. This debit card allows beneficiaries to easily pay for qualified disability expenses. This makes it possible for individuals with disabilities to handle their own financial concerns without having to go through a middleman.
The maximum balance you may have in any ABLE account, including ABLEnow, is $100,000 if you want to remain eligible for SSI benefits. However, if your SSI eligibility is not a concern, ABLEnow has a higher maximum of $500,000 for their accounts. You can contribute (and let your money grow) up to that half-million mark with an ABLEnow account.
ABLEnow charges a monthly service fee of $3.25 for all accounts. (Some ABLE accounts charge different fees depending on if you are a resident of the administrating state). ABLEnow waives this fee if you keep a daily balance greater than $10,000.
There is also an annual investment administrative fee of 0.15% and an annual program administration fee of 0.10%. ABLEnow assesses these fees quarterly on investment balances. If you keep your ABLEnow funds in the deposit account, you will not be assessed these fee.
Finally, each Investment Portfolio manager charges an asset management fee, which varies depending on which portfolio you choose. These asset-based fees are between 0.37% and 0.40%, depending on your investment selections
Virginia529, the country's largest college savings plan, administers ABLEnow. Virginia residents enjoy an individual income tax deduction of up to $2,000 per account on contributions. In addition, Virginians over age 70 may deduct the full amount they contribute to ABLEnow from their state income taxes.
Even if you are not a resident of the Old Dominion, you may qualify for the Saver's Credit for your first $2,000 contribution per year to an ABLEnow account. As of 2019, you can claim the Saver's Credit if your AGI is at or below the following levels:
Married filing jointly: $63,000
Head of household: $47,250
Single filers: $31,500
Is ABLEnow the Right Account for You?
ABLEnow offers convenience for individuals with disabilities who want to handle their own financial decisions. For instance, my aunt who has cerebral palsy would be a perfect candidate for ABLEnow. An account with them would end the financial gatekeeping involved in allowing her to access funds from her trust. A free debit card that allows her to make her own purchases would save her a great deal of stress.
For kids like Isaac, who may not have the ability to make the best financial decisions for themselves, ABLEnow doesn't have quite the same benefits. Since Isaac will likely need someone to play financial gatekeeper, ABLEnow may not be the best option when comparing its investments, fee structure, and tax benefits to other ABLE accounts.
I would encourage any family to take the time to compare ABLE account offerings to find the best solution for their needs.
The Bottom Line
That said, ABLEnow offers an excellent way for individuals with disabilities to handle their finances. Between the contribution options, the tax-free growth and distributions, the potential tax breaks, and the ease of accessing your ABLEnow funds, it is a great option for families unsure of how to support their special needs kids.