My name is Grant and Millennial Money is my mission and passion. It is a Personal Finance, Investing, and Entrepreneurship community. Learn How to Make More Money and Accelerate Your Financial Independence.
For most Americans, debt has become an unfortunate part of life. From student loans to credit cards, debt is more common today than ever before. Americans now have almost $1.5 trillion dollars in student loans to repay, with the average college graduate in 2016 having approximately $37,172 in student loan debt. Add that to the average credit card debt of over $15,000 per American household, and the debt trap is getting bigger every year.
But thankfully, as a generation, we are starting to conquer it and in fact, 39% of millennials are hoping to pay off their debts in 2018, according to a recent Fannie Mae survey. If debt is a fundamental part of today’s financial landscape, then why have we previously been advised to steer clear of it?
A simple explanation is that there are different types of debt. Good debt can help you build long-term wealth and achieve your future goals. Bad debt can drain your bank account and ruin your credit.
So how do you identify which debt is good and which debt is bad? The key is being able to think about some loans as investments in your future that will generate a net-positive return on investment (ROI) in the future.
I know it’s hard to imagine that debt can help generate income in the long run, but that’s a common misconception. A way to determine if debt is good, is to ask yourself if you’re using it to finance something that will appreciate (aka go up in value) over time and if there is an opportunity to get returns on the money you’re planning to spend.
Let’s look at some of the four most popular types of debt to determine if they are good or bad.
Mortgage loans are an excellent example of good debt if you use them responsibly. When you take out a mortgage loan, you’re not only putting a roof over your head, but you’re getting tax deductions and a financial asset that is likely to appreciate over time. Also, with mortgage programs offering down payments as low as 3%, funding a mortgage is more accessible than ever. While mortgages are long-term loans, by the time you pay off the mortgage, your home could be worth more than what you initially paid for it. Also, making consistent, on-time payments can help improve your credit score.
But mortgages can also become bad debt if you buy a home that is more expensive than you can afford and ultimately have to default on your mortgage payments. A good rule of thumb is to take out a mortgage that you can pay with 25% – 35% or less of your after-tax take home pay. This will give you some flexibility and ensure that you’re not “house poor” because you are spending too much money on your monthly mortgage.
Also, when buying any home there are additional costs above your mortgage payment that should be factored into your calculation, like taxes, repairs, and any assessments. The best way to ensure that mortgage debt is good debt is by making sure you can afford your monthly mortgage payments.
Student loans can be another example of good debt – with some caveats. As scary as student loan payments may seem, there is still a positive correlation between a college degree and future earnings. Having a degree immediately increases your value in the work field and presents opportunities that would otherwise be unavailable. Student loans also offer low-interest rates, while other types of debt are notorious for having crippling interest rates. This is the type of good debt that acts as an investment in your future.
But that also doesn’t mean that all student loans are worth it. The value of your student loans can be determined by other factors, like where you go to school, what type of degree you get, and what you do with your degree when you graduate.
Car Loan Debt
On the other hand, bad debt is something to be avoided. If you’re borrowing money for something that is a depreciating asset, then this debt could be a bad decision. The average American pays around $500 a month on a car payment, which in most cases is bad debt because a car is a depreciating asset (meaning it goes down in value over time). While it might be nice to be driving a nice new car, it’s a much better financial decision to buy a used car with cash if you can.
Or think about if you really even need a car – it’s never been easier to get around using public transportation and ridesharing, which might end up being a lot cheaper than owning a car in the first place. Why saddle yourself with $500 a month to pay for the next 6-7 years, when you could buy a less expensive car and use that money to invest in stocks or real estate that can go up in value? In almost all cases car loan debt is bad debt.
Credit Card Debt
Credit card debt is arguably the worst form of debt because the interest percentage is so high. The average credit card interest rate is over 15%, meaning you pay the bank 15% every month you don’t pay your credit card balance in full. It’s easy to swipe your card for every single purchase, but credit cards are rarely used to pay for something that will have future financial returns. Even a small balance on your credit card can accumulate into a massive outstanding debt due to high-interest rates and late fees for missed payments. If you don’t pay your monthly bill in full, these interest payments can quickly drag you into debt and end up taking years to pay off.
Bad debt is avoidable by asking yourself if the purchase is a good investment. If the answer is no, then going into debt for this purchase is a bad decision. Consider if the debt can set you up for long-term financial security and help you build an asset. Now this doesn’t mean that credit cards are bad, you just need to use the debt responsibly by paying off your full credit card balance each month.
Often whether or not debt is good debt or bad debt depends on how you use it. If you are smart with it, like getting a mortgage to purchase a home, you can buy an asset that could go up in value. On the other hand, if you take out a bunch of debt for something that goes down in value you could find yourself in a big hole. Always be very careful about borrowing money and using credit.
If you’re interested in learning more about one of the best kinds of debt – a mortgage — there are great resources available to you. With as little as 3% down, you could own a home and invest in real estate and in your future self. Learn how here.
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of First Republic Bank. All opinions are 100% mine.
A few weeks ago, I was in the Las Vegas airport waiting to head back to Chicago, when I struck up a conversation with the guy named Steve sitting next to me. It didn’t take long for me to see that he was logged into his student loan portal looking at his upcoming payment. I made a comment about how student loans suck and he agreed, saying that he spends half of his monthly take-home pay on his student loan payment. After a few minutes of sharing my own story, Steve trusted me enough to tell me more about his student loans. As it turned out the interest rate on his private student loans was 9%. I knew he could do a lot better so about 15 minutes later he had refinanced his loans at a much lower rate saving him thousands of dollars per year in interest payments.
I’m always on the lookout for amazing student loan refinance rates and this month I discovered an exceptionally low rate offered by First Republic Bank. It’s one of the lowest rates in the country, and a 5-year term is currently as low as 1.95% APR1! I was so interested that I wanted to learn more. I had the opportunity to chat with James Herbert, their Head of Student Loan Refinancing. Below is that interview. Check it out.
What are the benefits, in your opinion, of student loan refinancing?
When you refinance your student loan debt with First Republic, you are taking out a personal loan at a potentially lower rate. The biggest benefit of doing this is saving money, which you can do by either lowering your current monthly payment, lowering your interest rate or both. It’s about getting out of debt sooner. Another benefit is you are often able to combine your existing loans into one provider.
What’s the student loan refinance process look like at First Republic?
It’s very easy. We want to blend the digital experience with a personal banking relationship. So anyone who is interested can come to our website, fill out a few simple questions, and get an estimate of their refinance rate. Then they will also get a follow-up call from a First Republic banker to make sure they are getting the best loan and terms that work for them.
What makes First Republic a good choice for student loan refinancing?
Our rates are really competitive and currently range from 1.95% APR to 3.95% APR.1 (Get your rate here.) So they are extremely attractive for refinancing and are among the lowest rates in the nation. We also offer great customer service since you work with a banker, not just an online experience. We also offer a full suite of financial solutions to help you achieve your life goals — from saving for retirement or a wedding to funding your children’s college education or investing. And as part of the refinance process you can get to know your banker and get personal support.
Is there any benefit for someone who wants to buy their first home to refinance with you while also looking for a mortgage?
Yeah, absolutely. We recently just launched a new program that offers exclusive rates for our clients who have refinanced their student loans with us and are looking to buy or refinance their first home with First Republic. If you refinance your student loans and then are interested, you can get paired with a homebuying expert to help you out. This is why we look to build holistic longer-term relationships with our clients.
When it comes to refinancing, when does it make sense and when doesn’t it make sense?
It’s a very personal decision based on your personal situation. Borrowers should know that when they refinance, the personal loan does not have the special benefits of student loans such as forbearance and income-based repayment. However, there are many financial benefits. Some people are looking to save money currently for a variety of reasons, including lowering their rates, shortening the loan term, or lowering their monthly payment to keep more cash in their pocket today. This is why an individual discussion can be so helpful, because we can help you make the best decision based on your personal goals.
If you are in the market to refinance definitely check out the rates at First Republic Bank, some of the lowest in the country. Get started today and learn more.
The True Impact of Refinancing Your Student Loans - YouTube
2 Terms and conditions apply. All loans are subject to the First Republic Bank’s underwriting standards. The products mentioned above are not available in all markets. For a complete list of locations, visit firstrepublic.com/locations.
While it’s still a little cold in Chicago, it’s bound to get warmer sometime right? But the weather isn’t the only change that takes place in early Spring. As my fellow Chicagoans know (and maybe dread!), the majority of the city’s leases end in April and moving week madness begins. This year, instead of fighting with the crowds, try springing into homeownership and making those hectic move out dates a thing of the past.
To Rent or To Buy
The rent vs. buy debate has been carried on for generations and I’ve written about it extensively. While buying a home is not a decision that’s made lightly, the benefits of buying your own home often far outweigh the benefits of renting.
According to a recent survey conducted on behalf of Fannie Mae*, 42% of millennials believe the biggest benefit to homeownership is being able to make their living space their own without the restrictions of a rental. If you’ve ever rented a home before, you’re aware of the downside of living by a set of rules from your landlord. Whether it’s a no-pets-allowed policy or being forced to keep the 70s shag carpet, these rules detract from truly making a house your home. When you own a home, you have the freedom to create a space that suits you, and you can do whatever you want whenever you want! And hands down the best part is you can’t get kicked out when your landlord decides they want to double the rent (this happened to one of my friends recently even though he’d been a good tenant for the past 5 years!).
The same survey shows that 25% of millennials want to buy a home because they want to put money towards something they own and will someday sell. When you’re making monthly rent payments, you’re essentially investing in your landlord’s future instead of your own. You’re making your landlord rich instead of yourself! Mortgage payments are an investment in your own future. Owning a home is an investment because when you’re ready to eventually sell your house you’ll ideally make back the money you spent and then some! Not only are you spending money on something that could give you potential returns but you’re getting many additional perks, like the mortgage interest tax deduction, that you can’t get renting.
If homeownership is so preferable to renting, then why don’t more millennials buy a home? Well according to the survey results, 54% of millennials who rent feel that they’re not financially stable enough to afford a home. Luckily, this is often a misconception. Mortgages have become increasingly accessible for people in all financial situations and are turning out to be a smart investment decision for many. One of the main reasons for not feeling financially stable is outstanding debt. In most circumstances the debt millennials are facing comes from student loans. Lenders have now created programs that offer mortgages specifically for potential homebuyers with student debt.
The other main road block for many is a mortgage down payment. Survey results also show that 83% of millennials believe the down payment on a mortgage is more than 3%. This is another misconception that should not stand in your way of buying a home. Lenders are now offering programs that require a down payment of as little as 3%. These programs also offer flexibility in where this down payment money comes from. Whether you’re paying rent or paying a mortgage, a monthly bill is inevitable. The upside is that owning your own home offers flexibility and freedom that renting does not.
Spring in Chicago
So the Cubs are back at Wrigley, music shows are almost back in Millennium Park, and you can almost taste that first hotdog of street festival season. The Chicago housing market is also still an incredible investment, with many neighborhoods selling at record prices and forecasted to increase in value over the next several years.
* Survey data in this blog post has been sourced from a November 2017 survey among 1,008 U.S. adults ages 18-36. This unpublished survey was conducted in the United States by ORC International on behalf of Fannie Mae.
Over the past year I’ve been writing a book about fast-tracking financial freedom and this Tuesday I’m doing two free live 1 hour webinars where I’ll be sharing the entire blueprint for the first time. You can also check out my sweet new beard.
I’ve spent the past 8 years refining, testing, and using this blueprint to make money as efficiently as possible. I’ve also been teaching this to my private coaching clients and it’s helping them all make and save more money. One of my clients used this exact framework to scale his $200 a week side hustling into a $250,000 a year business and how he’s on track to reach financial independence in the next few years before turning 35.
Now I’m excited to release the blueprint to a larger group and help more people fast track FI. On the Fast Track Financial Freedom webinar, I’ll also be sharing the exact strategy I used to go from $2.26 to $1,250,000 and financially free in 5 years. Back when I started my own FI journey at the age of 24 I found a lot of good information on saving money and investing, no one was writing about how to make more money to accelerate financial independence. I didn’t want to reach FI in 20 or 30 years, I wanted to do it as quickly as possible. That’s what we are going to cover in the webinar. I’ll be talking about the following topics and more:
I’ve never done a live webinar on Millennial Money so I’m excited to share and chat with you one on one. I’m so stoked so many people have already signed up. It’s going to be at least an hour of content with a live Q&A session so you can ask me anything you want about entrepreneurship, side hustling, investing, saving money, financial freedom, or anything else about money. I am also going to hang around the Q&A as long as I can, so if you’ve ever had a question for me here’s your chance.
I wanted to make sure you didn’t miss the opportunity to attend this live event. I don’t know when I’ll do another.
Anyone can go out and make a few hundred extra bucks a week on the side. You make extra money doing anything – mow lawns, walk dogs, shovel snow, babysit, code online, tutor, make deliveries, chauffer people, flip on eBay, sell a product on Amazon, participate in focus groups, or an infinite number of things.
But not all side hustles are created equal, and some can make you a lot more money than others. The best and worst thing about side hustling is you can literally make money doing anything.
A 12-year-old named Sam from Wisconsin reached out to me because he’s doing his 7th grade project on “How to make money side hustling” and wanted to profile someone who has had success side hustling. Sam’s got the right mindset – I wish I was asking these questions. Sam had recently found an article about me and how I made over $1 million side hustles, and reached out to interview me for his class project. While many journalists have shared my story, I gotta admit this request from Sam is definitely my favorite interview request I’ve received so far this year. Sam asked me a really practical question, “How can I actually launch a side hustle that will make me a lot of money?”
During our chat, he told he wanted to quit 7th grade and launch a business, which of course I advised against, but couldn’t help but laugh. I told him starting at 12 with what I was teaching him could set him up for life and to keep at it. We ended up chatting on Skype for over 45 minutes as I gave Sam a masterclass in making money – a class that he’d never take and will never take in school.
FYI, I am going to be hosting a Free 1 Hour Live Webinar This Week on Fast Tracking Financial Freedom where I’ll walk through the exact blueprint I used to reach financial independence at the age of 30. I’ll be covering a ton of topics including side hustling. I’ll also be doing a live Q&A so you can ask me any question you want about making more money.
It’s Never Been Easier in History To Make More Money
Back in the day you’d go to school, get a job, work at it for 30-40 years and the peace out into retirement if you made it that far. Your company took care of your with a lifetime pension (free money for the rest of your life!), but now we are left to fend for ourselves. Thankfully it’s never been easier in history to make more money. Either online or offline, it’s never been easier to get a raise, build a business, and the making money in your sleep investing.
Today there are now more tools, strategies, and blueprints for making money. You can learn skills insanely quickly on YouTube in less than a week, you can replicate someone else’s blueprint and map it to your own business, and you can join a community of other people who are working together to make money and build wealth. We are living in an awesome time to make money and I love teaching this stuff. I get so excited to see and help so many people make money faster than they ever thought possible. Below is what I told Sam and it’s a great starting point and blueprint for you to dive into making more money.
While there are many variables that impact how much money you make, here are the variables that I think matter most. They are what helped me save $1 million in five years and reach financial independence at the age of 30. Now I’m not saying it’s easy to make a lot more money, but it’s definitely getting easier. First, you need to shift your mindset.
1. Shift to a net-worth mindset and side hustle to invest, not spend
If you are going to side hustle, it’s not about how much money you make, it’s about how much money you keep and invest. You want $1 you make side hustling to be worth $5, $10, or $20 in the future. This is how you amplify your time. I see way too many people side hustle just to make a few extra hundred bucks a week to spend, but this significantly limits the potential of your side hustling.
While your income, your savings rate, your investment returns, your debt to income ratio, and all those other numbers are important when optimizing your money, the single most important metric that you should be tracking is your net-worth. Your net-worth measures how much money you are worth by subtracting your liabilities (debt/what you owe) from your assets (what you own that has value, your cash, and investments). It doesn’t matter how much money you make if you spend it all.
2. Side hustle for yourself, not someone else (actually be your own boss)
If you are side hustling for someone else, the money you can make will always be limited by the number of hours you have in the day. It’s really tough to get off your 9 to 5 job and hop in a Lyft to drive all night. Sure, people do it and it’s definitely a popular side hustle. While you might think you are working for yourself, you are actually working for Lyft. Sure, it gives you flexibility and freedom, but no matter how much you drive for Lyft or deliver for Postmates, you’ll always be limited to your own hours. You can’t scale Lyft driving because it’s limited to your own time.
So you need to think about side hustles that you can do and build a business. This doesn’t mean you have to hire your own employers, but you can probably make more money if you do. Profitable side hustling is all about the money/time tradeoff, so you will make a lot more money if you’re the person at the top. This is just one of the many reasons blogging is a great side hustle. To learn how to make money blogging check out my Free 7 Day Blogging Side Hustle Course.
3. Figure out how much time you can actually dedicate to side hustling
If you want to make money side hustling you’re going to have to put in the time. Before picking a side hustle, you need to evaluate how much time you are really willing to commit to it because how much time you have will determine the types of side hustles you can launch.
Some side hustles will take a lot more time to get off the ground than others – for example, if you have an amazing idea for a new mobile app, but you don’t know how to code, it’s going to take a lot of time to get that idea off the ground. But mowing lawns in the evenings or on the weekends doesn’t require anything more than the ability to mowing lawns.
This doesn’t mean that if you’re busy you can’t find time to side hustle, it just means that you should calibrate the difficulty of your side hustle based on the amount of time you have. I know many families who work side hustle at night after their kids go to bed and some who even bring their kids along on the weekend. They are able to do it, because they schedule their time well and they just really want it.
I had the opportunity to work personally with two Millennial Money readers, Rob and Melissa who have three kids and run their own side business flipping items they find at thrift stores and auctions. They also have a website called Flea Market Flipper where they teach others how to make money on the side flipping.
Since they have 3 little kids, time is incredibly limited, but they always spend a few hours each night working on their business after the kids go to sleep – since they are working on it together they still get to spend time together and make money. They also strategically divide up the tasks based on their own unique skill sets – Melissa handles the website, content writing, and technical side of the business, while Rob handles the selling and client engagement.
So sit down think about how much time per week do you reasonably have to launch a side hustle. Do you have time in the morning before work, maybe while you are commuting? What about after work or on the weekends?
Remember, side hustling is also about the time/money tradeoff, so it’s up to you to decide how much time you are willing to trade today to make more money to invest in the future.
4. Think about the profit potential before you start (most money for the least amount of time)
If you want to make as much money as possible side hustling then you need to think about how much money you can make with a potential side hustle before you start it. While you can make money doing an infinite number of things, you can only make so much by trading your own time, even if you are your own boss. Thinking about the scalable potential of a side hustle before starting will help you make as much money as you want from your side hustle. Here are a few examples.
While you can make money doing pretty much anything, it’s a lot easier to make money doing something you love or at least like – not only are you more likely to stick with it, but it also won’t feel like work. Sure, you can just have hobbies and do things for fun, but why not make money doing it? Think about what you really love to do and how profitable it can. Seriously, while you can make money doing almost anything, you can really make a lot of money if you can find something that you love doing and has profit potential!
5. Do you have the skills and resources to make it happen?
Before launching into a side hustle, just you need to be realistic about the amount of time you have to dedicate to it, you also need to be realistic about whether or not you currently have the skills required to make money doing it. Or if you don’t have the skills how long it will take to develop the new skills AND resources required to make it happen and how realistic it is that you will take the time to actually do it.
For example, back to the mobile app idea – everyone these days has an idea for a new mobile app, but if you don’t have any experience coding, then it’s going to take you a lot more time to get it off the ground. Sure, you can learn how to code as part of your side hustle, but realize that it’s going to take you a lot more time to launch and a long time until you start making money. I recommend that you pick a side hustle idea that you can execute on quickly and that requires a manageable amount of resources. You definitely don’t want to sink a bunch of money or money you can’t afford into a side hustle idea.
6. What is the market demand and competition for your idea?
Analyzing and understanding market demand is the first place you should start before launching any business – because if people don’t want what you have to sell or too many other people are selling it, then you won’t make any money. There are essentially three ways to compete – based on price, value, or both. So you can either be cheaper than your competitor, offer more value for the same price, or be cheaper and offer more value.
The higher the market demand for your service or product, the more money you can charge and the more money you can make. Market demand is determined by supply and demand, or the number of people who want to buy something (customers) and the number of people selling it (competitors). If you really want to make as much money as possible side hustling then you need to research the market demand for your service or product idea. While you don’t have to spend a ton of time doing market demand research, the more you know about the market the easier it will be for you to develop and sell your product or service.
Three easy ways to analyze the market demand for a service or product is to ask your potential customers what they want through in-person discussions or online surveys and analyze Google search volume data using Google Keyword Planner.
If there is no one else offering what you want to offer, then the reason is that no one is willing to buy it, or you’ve stumbled on an insanely good side hustle idea and might have an early mover advantage. No matter what your side hustle idea is, the more you know about your competitors the easier it will be for you to market and sell your own services.
7. Get your first customer
So now you’ve got a great side hustle idea, how do you actually get clients? While this depends on the type of product or service you are selling, generally the easiest way is to sell into the same community (online or offline) you surveyed to analyze market demand. If people already know you, they are much more likely to buy from you and are the best place to start.
Focus on selling your first client or first product. Don’t stress or worry about selling to a lot of people at first. While you might launch the best product or service ever and you might have more sales than you can handle, it’s more likely it will be tough to sell your first few clients or product. This is normal and actually to your advantage since you will want to grow your side hustle at a pace you can handle. One of the worst thing for a young business is to oversell and not be able to handle demand.
While it can be tough to sell your first client or first product, if you do it correctly your first customers will be the most valuable customers you ever have. Here’s why. Selling slowly at first will help you do two essential things that can significantly increase the potential of your business having success.
First, you should always over deliver for your first clients – give them as much value as possible, go above and beyond to make them happy, even if it takes a ton of extra time because you will want/need your first client or purchasers to be your references. Having a great reference will make selling your second client or product so much easier.
8. Test, Test, Test & Execute, Execute, Execute
While I recommend you start with one side hustle at first so you don’t spread yourself too thin, because you are your own boss, you can test out a lot of different side hustles to find one you really love and/or that makes you the most money. That’s the beauty of side hustling – you aren’t stuck with an idea. It might take you a few before you find your most profitable idea. It wasn’t until I tested five other ideas before I found my first profitable side hustle – doing search engine optimization (SEO) for companies.
One thing to keep in mind as you explore new ways to make money – ideas are a dime a dozen. Good ideas are everywhere. I had the idea for Uber a full 4 years before the company launched, but why didn’t I become a billionaire? Because ideas don’t mean anything if you can’t execute on them. Seriously, making money is all about execution. So as you brainstorm side hustle ideas while walking through this chapter, think hard about what you can execute with your skills and time.
9. Figure out when it’s time to scale
If you want to make millions of dollars from an idea that started as a side hustle, then you should scale it by hiring other people to do some (if not most) of the work. The more you can distribute the work, the less you can work, and the faster you can grow your business.
You should consider scaling your side hustle if you have been able to consistently sell your service or product and have been making a profit for the past 6 months, or if the demand for your services or products have exploded quickly. If the demand for your services or product is higher than you can meet on your own, or if the demand is consistent and you don’t want to do the work, then you should consider hiring other people to do the work.
By hiring employees, you can focus on selling (connecting your supply with the demand) and running the business. And when I mean employees here it doesn’t mean you have to hire full-time employees, they could be part-time or contract employees. It’s better to start small, since the last thing you want is to hire too many people and not be able to make enough money to pay them. Once again this is why it’s so important for the demand for your side hustle to be consistent.
The better your team is at doing the work the more efficient they get, so you eventually charge your clients or customers more money, but your team is more efficient, so the time it takes to do the work goes down, resulting in an increased profit margin for you – which means more money. Over time if you manage the business well, you can make an absolutely insane amount of money.
It’s one of those perfect spring May days when the sun warms your face, but it’s cool and easy to breathe. I was walking the half a mile from my house to my office and I’d had just the right amount of coffee that it felt more like I was floating instead of walking. I’d done this walk over 2,000 times since moving downtown and didn’t expect today to be much different.
However, once I reached the financial district in Chicago a man walking about 15 feet in front of me stopped gasping for air, and by the time I got closer he’d put one knee down on the sidewalk and then collapsed on his side. Time slowed for the next 30 seconds, as I froze and watched two people stop to ask if he was okay, then one pull out her phone and call 911. I walked over to help but was just in the way – by now people were gathering around. I stood and watched unable to help as an ambulance and fire truck showed up and a medic brought out a defibrillator working hard to save the mans life. I was running late, so I prayed and walked on.
Later that day and the next I looked online for information on what happened to him, but there was no mention. In fact, there was no mention of anyone who had died that year in the financial district in Chicago. I later learned from a convenience store clerk that the man who had died was 51 years old and had spent the past 27 years working for the same bank. He’d walked the same sidewalks I had over 13,000 times to and from his office.
It’s clearly something people don’t write about – these businessmen and businesswomen who drop dead on their way to and from work. But I had seen in real life and it haunted me. I started feeling a little bit emptier each day as I walked to my office. Once I stopped looking at the sidewalk and the street and the big buildings and started looking at people’s faces I could sometimes feel their emptiness too.
I’d never noticed it before because I never looked. Of course, some people looked really happy and had that extra pep in their step, but most people looked tired, sad, and sometimes vacant. I could not only tell they were suffering, I could feel it. So why were they doing this? Why did they get up and repeat the same patterns every day…why did I do it? Because we needed the money.
Just Getting By
Most of us work because we need the money and while there are some people who really love their jobs and work doesn’t feel like “work”, survey after survey reveals that most people don’t enjoy their work. A recent survey showed that 70% of all American workers are just getting by at work.
It’s also no secret that money is the number two reason couple’s get divorced and believed to be a top ten reason people commit suicide. So many of us get up and go to work and go through the motions because that’s all we believe is possible. That we are stuck at our jobs and in the daily grind. As my good friend Vicki Robin says in her transcendent book Your Money or Your Life, “instead of making a living we are making a dying.”
While didn’t realize it at the time, looking back it’s easy for me to pinpoint that spring May day was a turning point for me. I had just turned 30 a few months before and I was starting to feel the weight of the past 6 years. I’d been working 17 hour days, including most Saturdays and Sundays since I started my financial independence journey at the age of 24. I was tired, like really tired all the time. Every few months my body would completely crash and I’d be on the couch for a week feeling out of it and sick. I’d been running myself into the ground being in constant hustle mode for years.
A month after watching a 51 year old man die while walking to work I logged into Personal Capital (yes, I really have been using Personal Capital for over 4 years nows) and saw that my investments in my net-worth had hit $1,251,000 and that I was officially financially independent. That if I managed my money well I could likely live off it for the rest of my life without having to work again. I wish I could say that I jumped for joy and went out to a really nice dinner, but I didn’t. I was more in shock that I’d actually made it, but I too tired to celebrate that day or for the next few months. It felt like I’d just finished 100 marathons and it felt like a blur.
I launched Millennial Money exactly 3 years ago as a way to write about and reflect on how I’d gone from $2.26 in my bank account to millionaire in just a little over 5 years. While building the blog was slow going at first, I really fell in love with writing. After the first six months, I started getting emails from readers, but it was this message below that the reader could have never imagined would also change my life.
“Grant, I’m a huge fan of the blog and you’ve inspired me to get serious about making money so I can take care of my parents who have always struggled financially and are getting older. Just this past week I got a new job making $9,000 more than my previous job using your negotiation tactics and I made my first $200 with my side hustle this month. I know it’s not much, but I’ve proved it to myself that I can do it. I wouldn’t be here without you. You’ve changed my life. Thank you for all that you do.” – Brian from San Antonio
I realized at that exact moment this was my mission in life. My true purpose. Everything I had done had led me here for a reason. I felt oddly serene and at peace. This one email meant more to me than any dollar I’d ever made. While I love making money, it compared nothing to this feeling. This was it. I doubled down and started writing and connecting more. Over the following years, the emails like this multiplied and I now have a GMAIL folder titled “Purpose” that has thousands of messages just like Brians, some of them really long and heartfelt. They fill me with a joy that’s indescribable – the closest I can get is that it feels warm and whole.
Over the following year, I put more and more time into Millennial Money and doors started opening so many places. In 2017 alone I did over 200 media interviews, signed a 6 figure book deal, did many speaking engagements, and wrote over 150,000 words about money. Writing the book has also helped me reflect back on my own FI journey and realize now how many mistakes and sacrifices I made that I really didn’t need to make.
The previous 8 years have taken a huge toll on me. I’d gained over 60 pounds eating at my desk, not exercising as much as I should, eating crap, and dealing with immense amounts of stress. I had high blood pressure and was pre-diabetic. My Doctor was super worried, I could even see it in his eyes. He was more scared about me that I was about myself. He suggested that I take as long as a break as I could. He encouraged me to heal myself in any way that I could. But I had a book to write and media interviews and a blog to grow… How could I even begin to take time off?
I was utterly burnt out. While I had been burnt out before (remember I used to crash every few months for an entire week!), it was nothing compared to this. In September last year, I was so tired and sick I couldn’t get out of bed. I was tired all the time, but still couldn’t really sleep. My mind was blurry. I couldn’t even focus on small things like making a meal or watching TV. I was completely exhausted.
I realized that I was doing too much and that in one area of my life I was growing and fulfilled, and the other was causing me stress and anxiety. What I really needed a corporate detox. So in October of last year, I walked away to focus on my health and try to finish the book. The post I wrote, “A Confession & The Future” blew up and so many of you reached out to me offering support and encouraging words. I can’t even begin to tell you how much all of your messages and words meant to me. It filled me with so much love that you read and support me on my journey and in my mission.
The results have been incredible and I’ve never been happier. I’ve lost almost 30 pounds and I’m managing my stress. I’m sleeping better and feel more present. While I am definitely a work in progress, I’m getting better at cultivating balance in my life. While I’ve tested A LOT of things as I’ve tried to recover from my extreme burnout below are the 10 things that have helped me the most. I hope if you are trying to avoid or recover from burn out they will help you too. Keep in mind that I’m not a trained medical professional so consult your doctor if you have any questions.
1. Complete shut down and rest immediately. One big mistake I used to make was trying to “take it easy” when I started to burn out, but I kept working and inevitably ended up pushing myself too hard. When you start to feel like you are burning out immediately shut down and do as little as possible. Sleep whenever you feel tired. Say no to as much as you can. If you have travel plans cancel them. I slept for almost 2 weeks straight and did as little as possible to kick start my recovery plan.
2. Practice walking meditation in the morning. While I’ve enjoyed sitting meditation on and off for years (more off than on), walking meditation is extremely helpful in recovering from burnout. I usually practice walking meditation for an hour every morning. It’s simple to do – simply go out for a walk and focus on your breathing taking one step in front of the other. While it’s tough to slow down at first, keep at it.
Within a week you will be walking more rhythmically and you’ll start to notice things you never noticed before. I’m currently into watching the birds coming out for Spring, which is something I would never have seen before. You might be thinking, isn’t this just a walk? Yes, but it’s also meditation. You will learn how to control your breathing and it will calm your mind and body in ways you’ve never experienced before. It’s legit. To learn more about walking meditation and other great tips for relaxing check out Thich’s Nhat Hanh’s transcendent books Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life and The Art of Living: Peace and Freedom in the Here and Now. Both of those books are totally worth reading when you are burned out!
3. Drink a green juice daily or at least once every few days. Greens are super calming to your nervous system so the more you eat not only the more nourishment you are getting but they are chilling you out too. When you’ve been stressed out for a long time your body sucks up all of your nutrients and you are likely nutrient deficient in some way. Drink the green juices that have low sugar and no added sugar in them. I’m not talking about those fruit smoothies that are green, I’m talking about the juices that are made up of Kale, Spinach, Parsley, Wheatgrass, Romaine etc. The good stuff. If you want to make it at home my favorite green juice: 3 big handfuls of spinach, 3 leaves of kale, 1 apple, 1 lemon, 1 cucumber, and some mint. Add water as needed. Or you can also make it as a smoothie and add in 1 banana and some water an whatever type of nut or regular milk you use. And if you are looking for a to-go option, this is the best green juice powder I’ve found and now travel with (tastes terrible, but makes you feel amazing): Amazing Grass Green Superfood Organic Powder.
4. Drink lemon water in the morning and then drink a lot of water throughout the day. I started drinking 16 oz of organic lemon water right when I wake up every morning and it’s been really effective at hydrating me for the day. When you sleep your body has spent the past 8 hours using up your water and most of us wake up dehydrated. Study after study has shown that lemon water naturally detoxifies your liver and does a bunch of other amazing things. All you need to do is buy an organic lemon and squeeze half of the lemon into water and drink it up! After your morning lemon water, keep drinking water throughout the day. I only drink water, coffee (unfortunately dehydrating), herbal tea, green juice, and green tea. Buy a metal or plastic water bottle and keep it full and next to you at all ties. Most people are dehydrated and long-term dehydration can wreak havoc on your body.
6. Supplement with B Vitamins and Vitamin C. While there are many nutritional supplements that could be helpful in recovering from burn out, the two that helped me the most were a collection of B vitamins and Vitamin C, both of which your body uses up when you are really stressed out.
7. Give up alcohol for as long as possible. As more and more research shows, alcohol isn’t good for you and I learned quickly that it only makes burn out worse, as your liver and body have to work hard to remove the alcohol in addition to any craziness that you should be detoxing from. So give up alcohol until you feel fully recovered or for as long as you can or even forever.
8. Exercise but don’t overdo it. As you know exercising is good for you, but if you are burned out it can do more harm than good if you push too hard. Be gentle on your body until you feel recovered – don’t try to just sweat it all out or you will further compromise an already compromised immune system. This is one of the reasons I do walking meditation, take an easy bike ride, or do gentle yoga when I need to recover.
9. When you do go don’t go too hard too quickly. This was was a big mistake. When you do work, focus on short bursts of no more than 2 hours then take a 15-30 minute walking or sitting meditation break. This was really hard for me since I used to be a manic worker who always went super hard. But I made myself do it and it’s had a huge impact on my life and has made me more productive and mindful. Just try it out for a week the next time you work.
10. Set a defined quitting time and stick with it. Whether it’s 5 pm or 8 pm, set a time and then don’t do any strenuous mental or physical work after that time. Instead, make dinner, go for a walk, hang with your kids, cook dinner, play music, or anything else that isn’t “work”. This is really really hard for many entrepreneurs to do, myself included. It’s so easy to work all the time, especially if you are building your own business. So many of you are under an increasing amount of stress and pressure to perform, but not setting a quitting time is the easiest way to burn out.
11. Give it time. Researchers haven’t really figured out what stress actually does to the body and if you are really stressed or burned out it’s going to take time. And you might feel worse before you start feeling better. Everyone’s body responds differently to stress and recovers differently from stress. Use these tips as building blocks. Another great book to check out that has amazing tips that support wellness and is also definitely worth a read: How to Be Well: The 6 Keys to a Happy and Healthy Life.
Now that that the book is done and I feel like I’ve completely recovered from my corporate detox I am transitioning into the next phase of the Millennial Money mission, which is to teach fast tracking financial freedom without burning out! While the book won’t be available for pre-sale until this fall, I can’t wait that long to share the blueprint that I know will help a lot of people so I’m doing a Free Live Webinar on Fast Tracking Financial Freedom to share this blueprint with you.
I get asked all the time ‘what are a few things I can do today to improve my finances?’.
Keeping tabs on your money is obviously important. But why can it be so hard to stay on top of it day after day? The short answer: there is SO much to keep track of. Budgets, payment dates, paying off debt, improving your credit score, refinancing, tracking your investments, and planning for retirement….just to name a few. It’s enough to make your head spin.
But here are 11 of the easiest steps you can take to start saving and making more money.
11 Easy Money Moves To Make Today1. Track Your Money Like Millionaires Do
One of the toughest parts of managing your finances is staying on top of every aspect of your wealth.
Investment performance, cash flows, budgets, early retirement trajectory…..it’s a lot.
Luckily, Personal Capital makes it easier to master your money. It’s hands down the best Free Money app in the game. It has over 50 amazing features that allow you to keep track of your accounts, your spending, and your retirement progress. Here are a few of my favorite:
* Track your net-worth (the most important number in personal finance)
*Monitor your spending
*Analyze your investment portfolio
*Track your savings goals
*Plan for retirement
By linking your accounts with Personal Capital, you can use the next-level dashboard to keep a birds-eye view on your financial life.
It’s literally my favorite app ever. I’ve been using it for over 4 years and it’s completely FREE.
2. Sign up for a Better Travel Credit Card (and travel for free)
Do you travel a lot or want to travel for free? Then you need to check out some of the amazing sign up bonus for the Best Travel Credit Cards. Some cards give you up to 100,000 bonus miles or points for signing up! Depending on the airline you fly that can easily buy you a FIRST CLASS ROUND TRIP TICKET anywhere in the world.
If you do use credit cards and have decent credit then you should definitely check out the Best Travel Credit Cards to see if you can get a better credit card with better bonuses. I always sign up for at least 2 or 3 new travel credit cards every year to maximize the miles I can earn. I am always looking for a card with better bonuses and miles. Definitely, check out the Best Travel Credit Cards.
3. Only Pay for Car Insurance When You Drive (this is Legit!)
If you have a car, then car insurance is something you HAVE to pay for. There’s no way around it. Bummer. But…
…what if there is a way to ONLY pay for the miles you drive?
Metromile is making that happen with their pay-per-mile insurance model.
Blooom starts by giving your 401(k) an in-depth assessment, helping you understand your account better along the way. Find any hidden fees, see if you have the right balance of stocks and bonds, and get a better long-term outlook at your retirement planning.
If it’s right for you, the service is just $10/month for Blooom to continually monitor your retirement account. The ROI on the $10 a month is insane.
Let it know when you want to retire, and Blooom can help you get there.
5. Refinance Your Student Loans and Pay Up To $18,000 Less
The average college student has over $30,000 in student loans after graduation. And most people are paying WAY TOO MUCH MONEY on their student loans.
Don’t leave money on the table. The average student loan refinancer saves over $18,000 over the life of their loan. That’s a ton of money!
Fortunately, you can easily refinance those student loans as you build your credit and improve your finances in the first years of career.
Credible or LendKey both make refinancing easy and affordable. Some qualified borrowers can reduce their interest rate to below 5%. One Millennial Money reader even got a rate below 3%. Don’t leave money on the table!
Refinancing debt can give you more financial flexibility, and potentially pay less in interest.
6. Get the Best Deal on Life Insurance to Protect the Ones You Love
Knowing what type of insurance to get is tough. I’ll admit it.
Especially for young professionals in their 20s and 30s. You don’t always need the type of insurance being thrown at you by salesmen.
It can still be a great idea to have a basic life insurance policy if your family relies on your income or if you just had a kid. It can be your significant other, child, or relative you help care for.
PolicyGenius gives you an easy way to compare and buy life insurance online. I signed up for Life Insurance in less than 5 minutes.
Simply visit PolicyGenius, apply, and get instant freequotes from a range of the top life insurance providers.
9. Invest with a Robo-Advisor to Maximize Your Investing Returns
Bettermentis an easy to use platform that helps users start investing with as little as $10.
It works by asking you a series of questions about your age, income, risk tolerance, and financial goals. They help you minimize your tax burden and give you the option of consulting with a person any time you need a more personal touch.
Betterment keeps tabs on performance by letting you know when you are ‘on-track’ or ‘off-track’ to meet your goals. It also tells you how much to save in order to meet your goals.
If you’ve been following along with this series, you’ll know that I’ve teamed up with Fannie Mae to build awareness and debunk myths around homeownership. You can check out the first post here and second post here.
Fannie Mae conducted a survey of 1,000 millennials to learn about their thoughts on homeownership and many of the findings are pretty revealing. I was particularly interested to learn that the main reason for buying a home was for starting or expanding a family (26%) followed by the long-term investment (25%).
I always say that purchasing a home is one of the best investments in your future you can make, but did you know that there are steps you can take to make it an even better investment decision? There are many ways to increase the value of a new home that many first-time homebuyers don’t account for when looking for their first home.
3 ways you can boost the value you get from your home1. Home Improvement
Making smart improvements to your home is one of the best ways to help increase its value. This doesn’t mean you have to buy a complete fixer-upper and renovate the entire thing. It’s more about making your home the best home it can be – for you now and for your financial stability in the future.
Simple, non-expensive improvements can increase the value of your home, resulting in increased equity. And an added benefit is that you can make the home your own. This can be as small as a coat of paint or replacing the old school carpet. When looking into home improvement projects, consider the value of surrounding homes and plan upgrades that will match the community. This is an important point. You won’t always be able to recoup your home improvement investment when you sell, so be strategic about which projects you undertake. For example, minor renovations to kitchens and bathrooms tend to generate strong ROI. The best way to determine which upgrades make sense is to chat with a local realtor or local home appraiser.
The goal of most homeowners — when it comes time to sell their home — is to make more than they paid for it. In fact, 25% of millennials see the biggest benefit to homeownership as putting money towards something they own that they will someday sell. Did you know that if you’re married and file a joint return, the first $500,000 in profit on your primary residence is tax free, provided you have owned and lived in the home for two of the five years leading up to the sale and haven’t claimed an exclusion on another home in the past two years? Yeah, crazy but true. This is one of the reasons investing in a home can be such a great decision. Where else can you make tax free investment gains?
You make money on a home when it appreciates. Appreciation helps build home equity, which is the difference between the market price of the house and the remaining mortgage payments. Being smart about where you buy your home will likely determine how much it may appreciate. Location is the single most important factor in determining appreciation.
Another way to maximize your initial investment in a home is to consider the past appreciation of homes in the neighborhood where you are buying. A high rate of price appreciation is usually a good sign that the area is growing and that you’ll continue to see an increase in home value over the longer term.
There are more financing options when it comes to becoming a homeowner than you may realize, many of which can save you money on buying a home. You can maximize the value of your investment by getting a good deal on financing.
Companies like Fannie Mae, who I’ve been teaming up with for this series, help provide the infrastructure behind a variety of mortgage products – including options that offer lower down payments, and bundling renovation and energy improvements directly into your purchase loan.
Getting your finances in order – and making sure you talk to a lender about what’s best for your specific situation – can go a long way. And that’s what homeownership is really about. It’s a foundation for you and your family. It’s an achievable way to set yourself up for a better life. A lot of people think about how to maximize the value in a home after they purchase it, but it’s just as important to set yourself up for financial success before you even look for a home.
These are only a few of the many ways to try to maximize your investment in your home and take advantage of the benefits that come with homeownership. Just remember – buying a home is an important investment and life decision. These are just some ways to ensure that you’re making as knowledgeable a decision as possible in the short-term and long-term.
As I’ve said before, the very first step to invest in real estate is to be prepared to make a down payment on a mortgage, and you can learn more about these accessible, lower down payment options here.
After posting my blogging income report from last year (where I made $401,681 with my blogging side hustle), I’ve been getting a lot of reader questions about how much money can you actually make blogging? I think blogging is the perfect side hustle because you can do it in your own time, you can do it from anywhere, and you can build it into your lifestyle. Yes, I am actually working on a blog post on a sand dune in Oregon in the picture above!
Many of the full-time bloggers that I know are able to make over $200,000 per year and work about 10-30 hours per week. That’s an absolutely insane ROI for your time. More and more people are also reading blogs, so it’s really just the beginning. It’s still the Blogging Wild West. Get in NOW!! It’s pretty easy to make an extra $500 – $2,000 per month blogging in your first year. And then in year 2, 3, 4, and 5, you can significantly increase your monthly blog revenue.
First, because there have been so many questions I decided to put everything I know about blogging into a Free 7 Day Blogging Side Hustle Email Course. That course is an absolute beast (like 20,000 words over 7 days!) and includes my strategy on blog branding, design, building traffic, building email your email list and so much money. If you want to make money blogging definitely sign up (it’s completely free). If you want to jump right in and start your blog, you can have a blog for only $2.95 a month using this exclusive Millennial Money link.
Alright, now onto the good stuff. Here’s how you make money blogging and how much you can realistically make in year 1, 2, 3 and beyond.
How much money can you make blogging?
How much money you can make does not depend on how much traffic you are getting and how large your email list is. It’s not unrealistic to make at least $25,000-$50,000 your first year blogging, $100,000+ your second year, $250,000+ your third year of blogging, and $500,000+ in your fourth year. Seriously, if you keep at it and keep building your traffic and revenue will continue to grow. In my first year blogging, I made about $25,000, in year 2 I made about $150,000 and in my 3rd year, I made over $400,000, and I’m (crossing my fingers) on pace in year 4 to make over $1 million from this blog. And I’m able to write all of the posts on my laptop wherever I am. No matter what keep at it! While it takes time, blogging = freedom.
Later in this post, I highlight the 15 ways that I make money on the Millennial Money blog, but before we get there, here’s how you should think about (and measure) the money that your blog is making. Some of the bloggers that make the most money actually have pretty small audiences – they just know their audiences well and have maximized their earning per page view and email subscriber. Most professional bloggers are measuring both earnings per page view and earning per email subscriber monthly. Since I’m so busy I do it quarterly and it works for me.
1. Traffic (Page View Monetization)
It’s not unrealistic to make between $0.01 – $0.25 per page view in many blogging niches across display and affiliate ads. So if you get 1,000 page views a month (very very easy), you can make between $10-$25 per month, which will cover the cost of running the blog. But if you can get to 100,000 page views a month you can make between $1,000 – $25,000 off of your blog per month. In rare cases I’ve seen a blogger make $0.20 per page view in a very profitable niche like insurance, but somewhere in the $0.02 – $0.05 is realistic. So the more people your blog reaches the more money you can obviously make.
The more time you put into it, the bigger your traffic will grow, your email list will grow, and the more valuable your audience, the more money you can make. While making a lot of money blogging is definitely not easy, one of the best things about it is as your Google traffic grows over time, and your audience grows, you can make more and more money each year. This is why I love SEO (search engine optimization) so much – it really is the compound interest of blog growth. If you haven’t yet checked it out, here are my 67 Best SEO Tips for Bloggers. Study and use those strategies – they actually work. SEO is what is going to make you the money over the long run. Google organic traffic is by far the most sustainable traffic strategy.
The most important asset you have as a blogger is your email list. This is your crew, your audience, your tribe. They are the ones who will come back and keep reading your content and who you will build enough trust with so they will buy from you (either products you create or promote) or click on the affiliate links for the products you recommend. While you can, and will, definitely make money running display and affiliate ads on your blog, your biggest money making opportunity is going to be with your email list. The million dollar bloggers out there are able to make between $1-$5 in revenue per email subscriber each month!! If you have a list of 10,000 subscribers you can make up to $50,000 in revenue off that list per month! It’s crazy.
Keep in mind that’s a really extreme example and not typical. Somewhere in the $1-$3 per month per email subscriber is actually realistic. The ABSOLUTE BEST email marketing platform that I’ve found (and is sending you this email!) is ConvertKit. Start building your email list as soon as you start your blog. Your email list is your most important asset.
How much money you can make blogging depends largely on the niche you are blogging about. If you blog about used books, for example, you could probably only make money if you sold books directly through your blog and then you likely won’t make much money. Unless of course, you blog about (and sell) expensive, in-demand, rate books. But if you blog about money, for example, it’s going to be easier for you to make money because you can get larger affiliate commissions, bigger advertiser fees or CPMs (cost per thousand impressions), and sell products for more money. So pick a niche that you are really interested in writing about (this will help you stick with it) and one that can also make you money (if you want to make money blogging). Not all bloggers want to make money. Over the past 3 years, I have had the opportunity to meet (and work) with many full-time bloggers and while you can make money blogging in almost any niche, below are the most and least profitable blogging niches based on my own research and experience. Some bloggers are able to successfully combine multiple niches, for example, “travel and product reviews” to maximize monetization opportunities. Keep in mind these numbers are just average ranges that I have observed and were reported to me in a blogger survey of 481 bloggers across many niches.
Most Profitable Blogging Niches
1. Money / Insurance ($0.02 – $0.25 per pageview, $0.50 – $6 per email subscriber per month)
2. Product Reviews ($0.01 – $0.15 per pageview, $0.25 – $5 per email subscriber per month)
3. Travel ($0.01 – $0.10 per pageview, $0.50 – $4 per email subscriber per month)
4. Fashion ($0.01 – $0.10 per pageview, $0.10 – $4 per email subscriber per month)
5. Decorating ($0.01 – $0.05 per pageview, $0.10 – $4 per email subscriber per month)
Least Profitable Blogging Niches
1. Music ($0.01 – $0.03 per pageview, $0.10 – $1 per email subscriber per month) – I worked with a guy that had a music blog that got 2 million unique visitors a month, but he barely made $2,500 a month because it’s so tough to monetize.
2. General News/ Politics ($0.01 – $0.02 per pageview, $0.10 – $2 per email subscriber per month)
3. Cooking / Gardening ($0.01 – $0.03 per pageview, $0.10 – $3 per email subscriber per month)
4. Home Improvement ($0.01 – $0.03 per pageview, $0.10 – $3 per email subscriber per month)
5. Toys/Games ($0.01 – $0.03 per pageview, $0.10 – $3 per email subscriber per month)
How To Make Money Blogging
You need to think about your blog like a platform, not just a blog. A huge difference between million dollar and amateur bloggers is that they view their blog as a platform – meaning they use it to test (and then scale) money making ideas. They use it to connect with people. They use it to make money in a bunch of different ways. The more ways that you can make money on your blog, the more money you are likely going to make. Get creative. The experience you get monetizing your blog and connecting with other bloggers, the more ways you will find to monetize your content and your own brand. Over time you can grow your blog into a really profitable business that fits within your ideal lifestyle.
Below I’ve outlined 15 different ways I have made money from the Millennial Money platform in the past year. None of these ideas are specific to money blogging and you can use them for almost any niche. One tip – if a brand reaches out and wants to advertise on your website or buy a sponsored blog post, you can typically make a lot more money by selling them a package deal that includes a few of the ideas below. If someone wants to advertise with you they want to reach your audience and you can make more money if you sell them a few different ways to reach your audience. Just because someone reaches out to you with one idea, doesn’t mean they won’t buy something else. Often the more creative you can get, the more money you can make with your platform. With that mindset check out all the ways you can make money on your blog as a platform.
In the past 3 years I have made money through the Millennial Money platform the following ways:
1. Google Adsense
Google Adsense allows you to run ads from the Google Display network on your website. If you are brand new blogger Google Adsense is the easiest way to monetize your blog, but you won’t make that much money off of them. Even if you are getting a thousand visitors a month you might make $50 at most of Google Ads. But that’s a start! I used Google Adsense for the first year that I was blogging and then switched over to an ad network to get a higher CPM (cost per thousand impressions) and CPC (cost per click). You can learn more here about Google Adsense.
Potential blg revenue: $0.1 – $0.5 per page view
2. Advertising/Publisher Networks
Once you’ve reached at least 25,000 page views per month you can (and should) ditch Google Adsense and start working directly with an advertising network (they are also called publisher networks), who will directly manage the display ads on your website to ensure you are making the most money off of your ads. Typically these networks take between 20%-40% of the display ad revenue from your website. Even with this commission, you can make a lot more money working with an advertiser/publishing network than working directly with Google. There are often ad/publisher networks that specialize in your niche, so just do a simple Google search for [your niche] ad networks and you are likely to find a few that you can reach out to. Some of them are very selective about who they work with, so you might want to reach out to a few others.
3. Affiliate Ads
Affiliate marketing is legit and you can make a lot of money by placing affiliate ads on your website. In almost any niche you can make money recommending products or services and getting paid every time someone signs up through your link. These are affiliate ads and are a win/win for both bloggers and advertisers because the advertiser gets a confirmed sign up and you, the blogger, will likely get paid more money for a confirmed sign up than a click. Where you might get $1-$3 per click, with affiliate commissions, depending on the product you are promoting, you can make between $5 – $500 (or more!) when someone signs up through your link. So how do you make this kind of money? Only recommend products or services that you believe in and/or use. One of the fastest ways to lose the rust of your readers is to recommend a crappy or spammy product just because you will get paid if they click and sign up. It’s not worth it. Focus on finding affiliate relationships for products that you really believe in and/or use. Not all companies have affiliate programs or they keep them hidden for a smaller group of bloggers. Just reach out to the makers of your favorite products and/or services to see if they have an affiliate program. If they do they might have minimum traffic requirements, and if so, just make a note to contact them when your traffic gets bigger.
3 (a). Amazon Affiliate Ads
One of the most popular affiliates is Amazon and you can get paid whenever you link to a product listing on Amazon if one of your readers buy the product. While the payouts (what you get paid for sale) aren’t as much on Amazon as going directly to a product or service, they have really easy to use affiliate platform and you can pretty much promote any of the gazillion products on Amazon. The more expensive the product you promote is, the higher the commission you get if someone buys it through your link. This is one of the reasons people who blog about electronics and cameras and expensive items can absolutely crush it through affiliate ads – every time someone buys a TV through their link they are pocketing up to $200 per transaction. You can earn up to 10% with some transactions. Those numbers add up quickly. I currently only use Amazon affiliate ads to promote books that I recommend on Millennial Money, but make at least $1,000 per month through Amazon affiliate ads from this post on best money books. You can learn more here about Amazon affiliate ads.
4. Sponsored Content
The bigger your blog gets the more people will reach out and offer to pay to put their content on your blog. You are going to get hit up A LOT. About 100 people a week reach out to meet asking for me to put their post on Millennial Money. Typically they will offer between $50 – $1,000 to publish one of their posts on your blog. You might be thinking, whoah that’s a ton of money just to publish a post someone else has written, but you need to be careful. Google doesn’t like this practice and if they think you are publishing a lot of paid content they could blacklist your blog (which is absolutely terrible and will take you forever to recover from). You also want to be careful about how often you post sponsored content because the posts are often really crappy or have crappy links included in them. If you are linking from a crappy blog post to a crappy link Google is going to notice and so will your audience. So be very very careful about accepting sponsored content posts, or ask for a much higher fee and write them yourself. In the 3 years that I’ve been writing Millennial Money, I’ve only accepted 4 total sponsored posts and all of them I ended up rewriting myself and charging a larger fee. And all of them were directly related to ideas/services I already promote. Protect your reader and Google reputation above all else so go easy on the sponsored content!
5. Direct Display Ad Buys
Some brands or companies will reach out to you to put a banner display ad on your website to promote their product. Or you can reach out to companies that align with your target readership and blog niche. Sell the fact that a display ad will be on every page of your blog and get the maximum amount of visibility. Typically you can get between $200 – $2,500 a month per display depending on the niche you are blogging about. Some bloggers absolutely crush it, making $20,000+ a month on display ads alone. Typically you can sell a 728×90 banner ad for the most money since it’s the most visible when you put it in your blog header. But be careful to not put too many ads your blog – typically you can only sell direct display ad buys at a time. But if you really want you can push this and put smaller ads in your blog sidebar (have you seen those tiny little square ads on websites?) – some bloggers make a ton of money on 100 pixel / 100 pixel ads that are really really targeted. There was recently an app that wanted to be on the Millennial Money homepage for a month, but I don’t put ads on my homepage. Eventually, they offered me $15,000 for a one-month placement, which I just couldn’t refuse, so I built a temporary box on my homepage just for their ad. Always negotiate – let them make the first offer and then ask for at least $100 – $200 higher. Don’t leave money on the table.
6. Social Media Promotion
It absolutely blew my mind the first time a brand paid me to tweet. Seriously, I just couldn’t fathom that someone would pay me $500 just to tweet for 30 minutes in a Twitter chat. It was awesome. Since then I’ve been paid between $500 – $3,000 to do simple social media promotions of other people’s content. If you are an influencer or expert in your niche you can likely make money promoting products or services on social media. The bigger your following the more money you can get paid. Paid promotions are one are where growing a large social audience can really pay off. For example, some bloggers I know with massive Instagram followings make at least $5,000 per month promoting products in their niche (fashion and travel specifically). Sure they have a blog, but they make more money on their social following as they grow their blog.
7. Paid Social Media Content Promotion
This is how many of the largest, most profitable bloggers, make their money. Depending on the niche you write in and the affiliates you work with, you can crush it running Facebook or Google ads to your monetized content. This is an effective and popular blog monetization strategy many bloggers are using. Basically, the way it works is you buy Facebook traffic to your blog for say 3 cents to $2 dollars per click, but then a certain percentage of that traffic then signs up or buys something through one of your affiliate links. Then you manage how much you spend on ad clicks to generate affiliate revenue. While this definitely requires some Facebook and/or Google ad testing, over time when you find the winning combination (example for every $1 you spend on ads you make $5 in affiliate revenue) you can scale it quickly. I know some bloggers who spend $20,000 or more on ad traffic to their website, but they make over $30,000 in profit on that ad spend! Some bloggers I know make over $1 million A MONTH by buying and monetizing paid traffic. I’ve never gotten that good at this type of monetization, but it’s definitely something I’ve been exploring and growing on Millennial Money.
8. Course Revenue
While it will likely be difficult for you to launch a course shortly after launching your blog, building a course is a great way to make money on your blog. It’s never been easier to sell your expertise and make money teaching others. You can either host your course on your own WordPress blog using plugins like WordPress LMS or through a third party website like Teachable. In 2017 I launched the first version of the Millennial Money course and it was so successful that I had to take it offline only 30 days after launching it because I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. Just to provide support to all of the students was a challenge, but the course was definitely very profitable.
Many of the bloggers who are friends of mine have launched multiple 6 figure courses and a few have made 7 figures with their courses (yes you read that right – they have made over $1 million from just launching courses through their blogs). If you are thinking about launching a course check to see what else is out there in the market and who you will be competing with because I’ve also seen many bloggers launch course that they spent a lot of time building that didn’t do very well. If you are planning to develop a course that someone is already offering think hard about what would make your course different and why someone would buy it from you instead of someone else. Would your audience buy it? it’s often best to launch a course after you’ve been writing on your blog for a while and you know more about your audience and what they are willing to buy.
9. Consulting with Companies
Over the past few years a number of companies, both big and small, have paid me fees as a consultant to do many things, like providing feedback on a mobile app, feedback on a new financial website, to flying in and working with their design and marketing teams, or to speak with their financial advisors about Millennials. While I’ve been offered quite a few consulting gigs, I only take the ones where I am really interested in learning about the product or interest in forming a longer-term relationship with a company. If you become an expert in your niche or have a unique viewpoint, companies might be willing to pay you for your expertise. If you want to get consulting gigs the best way to do it is actually through LinkedIn – probably 80% of my consulting opportunities have come through LinkedIn messages, not my actual blog platform. But in 100% of the cases the companies are only asking me to consult with them because of my background and the Millennial Money blog. A simple way to set yourself up for consulting opportunities is to connect with other bloggers and people who work at companies in your niche on LinkedIn. Then start using LinkedIn to distribute some of your content. Also, the next time that a company reaches out to you to review their product, ask if they would be interested in having you come in to test and discuss it in person (you might get paid and a free flight to somewhere cool!). I am able to charge companies anywhere from $500 for a quick call to $15,000 for a one-day visit and workshop with their team.
10. Brand Partnerships
Once you start getting noticed in your niche then brands might start reaching out to you to discuss ways that you can “work together”. Be ready when this happens and have ideas and packages for how you can help their brand reach your audience AND vice versa. If you partner with the right brands it will benefit you as well, since they will share your content and email their followers about you as well. I’ve been able to generate a ton of blog followers through a few partnerships with big brands. Another benefit of big brands is that they likely have big budgets, which means they have more money to spend to work with you. My largest brand partnership was a $50,000 deal for 2 months that required very little of my time and was a win-win for both my brand partner and my audience. One piece of advice – most brands will want to start small with you but don’t undersell yourself. If a brand is reaching out to you they want to work with you, so be willing to negotiate. A few of the early brand deals I did I really undersold myself and they ended up being a ton of work. Over time you should look to create longer-term brand partnerships that are mutually beneficial and can become consistent forms of revenue for your..
So many people are telling me they have no interest in buying a home. That it’s just an expensive responsibility and just more debt on top of their student loans. “Why would I buy a home and get tied down, when I can live anywhere,” one reader recently asked me.
I can totally understand that buying a home might seem daunting, expensive, and maybe even completely out of reach. But homeownership is no longer just the American Dream, it can be one of the best investments you’ll ever make.
For some Americans, homeownership can be a way to get ahead. A key financial decision. A path to financial independence.
And it’s never been easier to buy a home.
Debt is one of the biggest obstacles to homeownership
Debt is no joke. But not all debt is created equal. Credit card debt is bad. Student loan debt can be good or bad depending on the value that you got from your education. And a mortgage can actually be good debt. Debt can hold you back for years, but only if you let it.
According to a recent survey conducted by Fannie Mae, 39% of millennials are hoping to pay off debts in 2018, with 18% hoping to pay off their student loan debt as their financial resolution this year.
Student loans have not only made it difficult to save money, but are also an underlying reason why many potential home buyers choose to rent instead of taking the leap to buy a house.
One of the biggest money mistakes many people make is waiting to invest in a primary residence until they have paid off all of their student loans. This is a massive missed opportunity. And I’m not talking about investing in market speculation, like bitcoin. I mean “invest” in the sense that homeownership can be a holistic investment in your future.
Credit card debt is another beast and should definitely be paid off completely before you invest, but student loan debt, if you have it, is a reality you’ll live with for a number of years.
Why it’s okay to be a homeowner with debt
In my last post, we shed light on the common concern that young investors could never afford the down payment on a home. Although, with accessibility to programs that allow down payments in the 3-5% range, a down payment on a home is significantly more accessible than ever before. So now that you’re aware of these programs, the next step is realizing that you’re not alone.
Let me be clear: it’s okay to be a homeowner who has student debt. It’s normal.
Approximately 44 million Americans are currently paying off their loans. This commonality has resulted in mortgage investors creating new policies for borrowers with student debt. For example, Fannie Mae offers Student Loan Solutions to lenders, which gives homeowners the opportunity to pay off one or more student loans with a cash-out refinance. In addition, Fannie Mae allows lenders to exclude certain monthly obligations paid by others from the debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, making it more likely for borrowers with student debt to qualify for a mortgage.
These new policies have made reasonable mortgages more attainable, even if you have student loan debt.
Stop renting and start investing
Student loans are an undeniable burden that millions of Americans are currently facing. But with low down payments and flexible mortgage options, homeownership is no longer unachievable for millennials seeking the financial security and perks that come with buying a home.