Hey there! I'm a millennial business coach who teaches online entrepreneurs how to make money their honey with online marketing. My mission is to provide the millennial generation with practical, simple, and effective resources for personal development, business growth and personal finance.
It’s that time of year again! The time when Americans get their tax refunds from good ol’ Uncle Sam!
If you’ve already got your eye on a hot pair of shoes or a new tech toy I urge you to please read this first.
I recently read The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley. The entire premise of the book was to see how American millionaires actually live and spend their money. In the book he denotes one key mindset difference that separates millionaires from non-millionaires:
Non-millionaires spend windfalls of cash. Millionaires don’t.
In fact, he details how the Average Joe already knows what they are going to spend their tax refund on before they even see the money.
Do you fall into that category? Here’s why you shouldn’t spend your tax refund and what to do instead.
1. Invest your tax refund.
What do millionaires tend to do with windfalls of cash? They invest it. They are keen on having their money make more money for them. You get bonus points because any income earned from your investments is considered unrealized income (so long as you don’t touch it) and the IRS can’t tax you on unrealized income.
I can already hear the complaints, “But Amanda! Don’t I run this risk of losing all my money in the market?”
My response: you’re going to lose your money anyway if you decide to spend your tax refund. At least if you invest it you have a shot of making more money.
Now you’re probably thinking, “Okay I see your point. But I know nothing about investing.”
The remedy for that is simple: go learn.
It’s not as complicated as the financial industry would have you believe, you don’t need a shit ton of money to get started and there are more options than ever before to diversify your investments with lower fees (I’m personally a fan of index funds).
The first step is to realize investing isn’t gambling and it’s no riskier than spending your money or letting it sit in the bank making a measly 0.17% in interest.
Investing is a long-term deal where your money grows over a period of time. Over the course of the 20th century, American markets averaged a return of 8% despite two World Wars, the Cold War, the Great Depression and countless downturns we’ve had since.
“Over the long term, the stock market news will be good. In the 20th century, the United States endured two world wars and other traumatic and expensive military conflicts; the Depression; a dozen or so recessions and financial panics; oil shocks; a flu epidemic; and the resignation of a disgraced president. Yet the Dow rose from 66 to 11,497.” ~Warren Buffett
If this right-brained English major who’s hated math since the third grade can do it, you can do it too.
One of my favorite tools for investing windfalls of cash is Betterment, a robo-advisor that makes it easy to invest.
I got a refund of about $400 (a self-employment miracle!) this year thanks to my contributions to my SEP IRA and immediately invested it into exchange-traded funds via Betterment.
2. Apply it to next year’s taxes (or quarterly taxes if self-employed).
If you know you’re going to owe taxes again you can apply it to your next payment. For example, those of us who are self-employed pay quarterly taxes. If we overpaid and got a refund, we can apply that refund toward our next estimated tax payment.
It’s a good way to make sure you don’t fall behind. So instead of spending your tax refund on the new iPhone just use it to lower your tax burden next year.
3. Sock it away in an emergency fund.
I’m big on emergency funds. First, because I have variable income so it’s especially important to have money socked away in the bank. Second, because I had a surprise gum surgery that caught me by surprise a couple of years ago. I also went through Hurricane Irma last year and lost almost a month of billable hours. A week later, I fried my Macbook and needed to replace it. Trust me, I knofirsthandnd what it’s like to not have enough money to cover an unexpected expense. It sucks.
Emergencies and unexpected expenses are not a matter of if, they are a matter of when. The car breaks down. You have a medical expense. Maybe a pipe bursts. This stuff happens to people all the time.
Rather than slapping the expense on a credit card and taking a whirl on the debt merry-go-round, use your tax refund to start a savings account with money you’ve set aside for emergencies.
So if you were planning to spend your tax refund this year, I strongly encourage you to save it for emergencies instead. I do this every quarter that I’ve over saved for estimated taxes. Whatever is left over goes straight into boosting my emergency fund.
4. Fund your retirement account.
This is kind of along the same lines as investing, except you really won’t be seeing this money for a very very long time.
If you’re self-employed or your employer doesn’t offer a 401(k) you’ve (hopefully) got yourself an IRA where you deposit money on a regular basis. If you’re employer does offer an employer-sponsored plan then (hopefully) you deposit a bit of money into it each pay period. This money, which is invested and takes advantage of compounding interest, is meant to serve you in your golden years when you decide to stop working.
The problem is the majority of Americans don’t have enough saved for retirement. This is old news, but it’s noteworthy because apparently we still haven’t learned.
Give your retirement account an extra boost with your tax refund. In fact, use it to help max out your contributions for the year so you can get a tax break later on. If you have a Traditional IRA you may get a deduction against taxable income in the year you mark the contributions.
Save for retirement, make more money and get a tax break? Sounds like a win all around.
(Note: Roth IRA is a little different since the taxes are paid now instead of later when you take out the money. If you’ve got any questions about tax benefits from doing some of what is mentioned above I highly recommend contacting my accountant. )
It would seem that there are smarter things you can do with your money than spend your tax refund. Now, I know first hand how hard the temptation can be. Last time I got a refund I bought myself an iPhone and an iPad.
However, I have since learned that I would much rather have my money make more money for me, or use it to cover emergencies down the road. Do I love my iPad? Absolutely. But peace of mind is worth a lot more to me than an iPad.
I spent way too much money in December and January.
Between a broken fridge, the holidays and some emotional spending that went down in January, my credit card bill is looking scary.
I also spent a lot in my business in January and February because I needed to make some strategic investments.
Long story short, while I’m not entirely sure yet, I may have credit card debt for the first time in my life come March.
What the hell happened?
I’m not much of a spender by nature, but I simply wasn’t paying much attention in December and January. I also made a lot of money in both December and January (click here to check out my income reports) so I figured I’d be fine.
What I didn’t expect was to have some personal issues that got in the way of my work in January. I also wasn’t expecting cash flow issues in February.
In other words, life happened and I wasn’t as attentive to my finances as I normally am.
I’m not one to play victim though, so here’s what I’m doing to get back on track after overspending.
Forgiving myself is my first step to help me get back on track after overspending. I’m not perfect. I never have been and I never will be.
Quite frankly, I needed to prioritize my self-care over my career for a few weeks and there is nothing wrong with that.
It’s far too often that entrepreneurs push through things instead of dealing with their feelings. Now that I’m entering my 30s I understand that if I don’t deal with my emotions when they surface, then they will come back to bite me in the ass later.
My second step to getting back on track after overspending is to focus on the positive. In addition to not really playing victim, I’m also a glass half-full kind of person. I tend to focus on what is working versus what isn’t working in my day to day life.
That being said, I made a list of things that were going really well for me. That list looks like the following:
I just completed a major campaign with Intuit Turbo.
I’m obsessed with SoulCycle and the exercise makes me feel so much better.
I’m nowhere near as broke as I used to be.
I have amazing friends and people in my life.
I got the opportunity to attend a mastermind retreat in New York.
I live in an amazing city and have a very active social life.
The truth is we all have stuff going for us, we just have negativity bias. This means we tend to focus on the things that are going wrong. This creates a loop where – you guessed it – things keep going wrong.
In my experience, if I can acknowledge what isn’t working (because I live in reality) while keeping my focus on what is, I can rebound much faster.
Was I always a positive person? No. This has come with a lot of practice of purposely redirecting my focus over time. I definitely recommend any of Gabby Bernstein’s books to help you with this.
Getting back on track after overspending doesn’t have to be difficult. Normally, I tend to reduce spending in my personal life. While I certainly plan on doing that this time around, I’m also looking at reducing spending in my business.
It’s not a secret that I have no qualms about throwing money into my business, but it’s time to reel it back in. I already found ways to save over $1000 a month on my business while still making money. The truth is my business has changed a lot, so I need to make financial adjustments that make sense.
In a recent podcast episode, I mentioned how I needed to take a little bit of a break in January to deal the aftermath of a rough start to the New Year. This means I took it easy for a couple of weeks.
The downside of that is I didn’t have as much work lined up for February because I wasn’t pitching or selling.
In the last couple of weeks, I’ve gotten back into a rhythm of pitching, selling and marketing. I’ve also taken new opportunities and have found new ways to monetize this blog.
My efforts are starting to pay off with some deals and sales coming through so we’ll see what happens. I may also have to hustle a little harder to pay off the debt, but a little extra work never hurt anybody.
I thought I would be more ashamed of having credit card debt, but the truth is I’m not really attached to it. I think a big part of the reason why is because I know how I’m going to quickly get out of it. It’s also not the first time I’ve been in a tight financial situation I’ve had to see my way out out. Because of this, I trust myself to figure it out.
If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me how to make more money, I’d be a millionaire by now.
Fortunately, it is easier than ever to make an extra $1,000 a month. It’s certainly much easier now than it was when I started blogging back in 2010. Back then people weren’t really making money blogging. You also didn’t have ride sharing companies, Etsy wasn’t blowing up yet and people were still waiting for the economy to go back to how it once was.
Why You Want to Make An Extra $1000 This Month
Just imagine what you would be able to do if you could make an extra $,1000 each month. Here are just a few ideas to get your wheels turning:
Pay off your debt faster. (P.S. If this is you, check out Credit Sesame for free credit monitoring! Use my affiliate link here to get started)
Increase your savings.
Increase your investing.
Reinvest some of that money into a business and make more money.
I have plenty of other friends who experienced the same thing. What started as a way to make an extra $1,000 turned into a full-time business.
That being said, we all needed to start somewhere right? Here are some of the ways you can earn an extra $1,000 this month.
Freelance writing was my gateway drug into online entrepreneurship. Because companies need content marketing, there is a very high demand for writers.
However, most people will tell you to go to Upwork to find work. Trust me, it doesn’t work. In the time you spend finding clients who underpay and writing proposals, you could have been making more money elsewhere.
That’s why I created a course that teaches you how to earn real money as a writer. In this course, I teach you everything that helped me create a mid-five-figure content marketing business.
In addition to there being a high demand for writers, there’s also a huge demand for virtual assistant. I, myself, have two.
The cool part is you can start making some money pretty quickly. My editor, Kimberly Studdard, actually started doing virtual assistant work a couple of years ago when she and her husband were strapped for cash. In a very short amount of time she was able to earn four times as much money than they were bringing in together. Her husband now stays home with their daughter while she works on her VA business and blogs on her website.
My colleague Kayla Sloan also started off by doing virtual assistant work. This has helped her pay down a significant amount of debt AND start her own business.
Ridesharing companies like Uber have made it easy for people to make extra money in their spare time. I regularly have drivers who decide to drive for a ride sharing company a couple of hours a day after work. From what they tell me, it allows them to make extra money and they avoid the rush hour craziness on the way home.
Just note that different cities and states have different rates so your payments may vary. Either way, it’s an easy way to get started making extra money this month.
As you can see, there are many ways to make an extra $1,000 a month. While there are a lot of different options, these four are ways are the best in my opinion, and can bring in cash the quickest (with some work involved!).
The more I work in the finance space, the more I realize how rich people think differently than the Average Joe.
I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by very intelligent people on a daily basis thanks to my work. I interview them for my podcast, read their stuff and interview them for my content marketing clients. I also purposely put myself in rooms with them, like when I attended Tony Robbins: Unleash The Power Within a Few Months Ago. Some of the people I met there were making millions in personal income each year.
It’s like I’ve given myself a self-education in finance and it’s definitely giving me a return on my investment – especially as it pertains to my money mindset.
They focus on how they can earn more
One thing I’ve noticed is how rich people think differently and are always finding ways to earn more money. In fact, while I was researching the subject for my column at Inc, I found that 65 percent of self-made millionaires have three streams of income.
Here are some of the ways you can start focusing on earning more:
Ask for more money for work you already do. A student in my Persuade to Profit program recently negotiated a 30% increase in her rates with her clients.
Invest in programs that will help you earn more money. I’ve been investing in classes and mentorship for years and I find that rich people do the same.
Find ways of making extra money on the side of your current gig.
They surround themselves with people they want to learn from
Every single rich person I know either belongs to a mastermind group or puts themselves in situations where they can learn from people who are further along than they are.
The truth is who you hang out with matters. This applies to just about anything in life, but especially money.
If you’re trying to make something of yourself you’re going to start craving to hang out with people who are on the same journey. I see it happen all the time. A person decides they are finally going to get their shit together and then they look around and realize that the current company they keep isn’t going to help them do that.
Here’s an example. If you’re trying to earn more money and your current company keeps telling you all the reasons it can’t be done, you need to find some new friends. Or, at the very least, you don’t need to share your goals with them. Instead, share them with people who get it or will encourage you.
This is around the time when people start seeking out bloggers, mentors and experts to learn from. It’s also when they start showing up to events in search of like-minded people who also want to improve their situations.
Rich people bounce back quickly from disappointment. They see the situation for what it was, find the lessons and move on to the next thing. Meanwhile, the Average Joe uses a bad experience as evidence as to why something can’t be done.
We all experience disappointment, the difference lies in how you choose to perceive it.
They believe in abundance
Rarely do I meet a financially savvy person who is overly worried about their competition. On the contrary, the rich people I know are some of the most laid back, generous and humble people I know.
They aren’t worried about someone stealing their thunder. They also aren’t worried about stealing someone else’s thunder.
The reason is because rich people think differently and know there’s more than enough success, money, followers and wealth to go around.
They respect themselves
It’s far too often that I work with coaching clients and students who are underearners. I, myself, am a recovering underearner so I get it.
Underearners tend to put more emphasis on being liked than being respected. They are afraid that if they are assertive then they will turn someone off. At the end of the day, they usually end up bending over backwards for people and have nothing to show for it. Eventually they become resentful because they feel like people are taking advantage of them.
Rich people don’t give a shit about being liked. At the end of the day, it’s about respect and finding a fair situation for everyone involved. They see everyone – including themselves – as equal players.
I haven’t met a single rich person who hasn’t done something risky. Granted, the risks are calculated and they consider return on investment. Either way, they know they can’t really control everything and may lose money.
Here’s an example of how I see people avoiding risk all the time.
An amazing opportunity comes their way and they don’t take it because they are afraid.
They don’t invest in a course that can help them earn more money because they don’t believe it’s possible for them.
They don’t take opportunities because they don’t know where the money to pay for it is going to come from.
While I don’t advocate getting into debt over stuff (I’ve never carried over a credit card balance), I’d be lying if I said I always had the cash sitting in the bank when opportunities came up. The fact is it rarely ever happens that way.
Here are a couple of more recent examples:
I slapped the cost of a business retreat in Puerto Rico on a credit card. Figured out how to pay for it by the end of the month, attended the retreat and am now on track to have a six-figure business thanks to what I learned.
Also slapped my ticket for Tony Robbins: Unleash The Power Within on a credit card because a random opportunity came my way. Did I know where I was going to get the extra money from at the time? Nope. Did I find it? Yes. UPW was one of the best experiences of my entire life.
The reason I am able to do this is because I believe in myself to find the money. The credit card just gives me some time to find it is all. That’s one of the reasons you’ll never hear me being anti-credit card. In my mind, it’s just a tool you can leverage.
This is a massive mindset shift than that of a few years ago where I was too afraid to take risks. I was also still broke back then. A lot of it had to do with the fact that I just didn’t believe in myself to earn whatever I wanted. Now I do.
(P.S. I’m very disciplined with credit cards and don’t go overboard. I know it’s not free money. That’s why I’m able to do this. If you feel like you have the personality type where this isn’t possible, I would advise against it. Then again, I know plenty of people who used to get into trouble with credit cards and now use them responsibly. It’s up to you.)
Living an abundant life requires shifting your mindset about money. Period. Throughout my journey healing my own financial life, I have found that society and culture has fed us a ton of bullshit about money. Rich people think differently. They don’t buy into it.
I’ve made plenty of sacrifices on my financial journey due to the fact that I was unemployed, then underemployed, and then decided to turn a blog into a business.
I lived at home for a while, didn’t really buy anything for myself for a couple of years and didn’t really go out when friends were at bars. I also missed a friend’s wedding in the Dominican Republic because, at the time, I needed to play it safe with my money.
These didn’t really feel like sacrifices though. Sometimes it was frustrating, but it wasn’t like my life totally sucked.
Additionally, I did have a ton of fun. In my case, it looked like taking random trips just because my schedule allowed it.
Fast forward to now and I’m having a lot of fun while still being pretty financially savvy. It just looks different than it used to because I’m in a different stage in my life.
This begs the question – how can we be financially savvy and enjoy life on a budget?
Have a vision.
As I mentioned, I’ve made plenty of “sacrifices” to get to where I am in my business and my financial life. I also mentioned how, while frustrating at times, it wasn’t really that big of a deal.
One of the reasons is because I knew what I wanted and was willing to make the necessary choices to get it. If that meant I couldn’t go out partying as much because I was starting a business from scratch, then so be it.
Having this vision kept me focused. It also helped me when the inevitable bouts of FOMO appeared.
The problem I see a lot of the time is people don’t know what they want in life. They don’t even think about it. As such, they have no direction for their money.
Have a savings account for fun stuff.
I was recently approached by a business buddy to attend a mastermind retreat in the Catskills in May. We’ll be staying in a mansion for a few days to work on growing our businesses. I immediately said yes.
The reason I don’t have to think twice when these types of opportunities come up is because I have a savings account specifically for these things. We’ll get invited on trips and outings. We’ll want to try new things to make our lives fun. It’s just the way life is. To enjoy life on a budget, you actually have to take the time to ENJOY life.
That being said, if you know these things are happening, then plan for them. I personally use the Qapital app which saves small amounts of money for me each week. It’s a 100% free savings account and I currently have almost $1000 in there.
This is how I can pay for random trips to the Catskills or trying out new SoulCycle classes. While I haven’t had to withdraw from the account because I’m earning more than enough money, the money is in the account should I need it.
I live right smack in the middle of a bustling city. Is my rent higher? Yeah. But I also have access to a ton of FREE stuff to do so it evens out. I’m certainly not bored and it doesn’t cost me much (if anything) to be entertained and hang out with friends. I get to enjoy life on a budget, and have a ton of things to do on any given day.
A few weeks ago, I attended a freelancer meetup, a happy hour sponsored by Heineken, a beach cleanup, a party for an eco-living campaign, a grand opening for a cafe and a networking event at SoulCycle – ALL 100% FREE.
This makes my financially savvy extroverted heart very happy.
Make more money.
If you’re only focused on managing money, then you miss all the opportunities to make more money.
Is managing money important? Absolutely. However, speaking from experience, when you shift your mindset to how you can earn more money, everything gets easier.
Here’s what happens when you focus on finding ways to earn more money:
Saving and investing becomes easier
You can go out for a meal with friends and not worry about it
If shit hits the fan you know you’ll be fine. For example, my fridge broke and it took a while for it to get fixed. This means I was eating out a lot for a few days. Did I freak out when I saw the credit card bill? Nope. Because I earn more than enough money.
You create multiple streams of income which is just smart.
It’s easier to invest in things that will take your career further.
You can take advantage of opportunities – like my trip to the Catskills – without worrying about where the money is going to come from.
Sometimes earning more money can also be as easy as just asking for more money for the things you already do. That’s what happened to one of my students in my Persuade to Profit program. After overcoming some money blocks, she was able secure 30% more money from clients.
Sometimes I even mix business and pleasure. For example, I recently attended a Miami Blogger Happy Hour. I mostly went to have fun, but you can bet it’s business too.
Being financially savvy doesn’t mean you need to stop living. This is an assumption many people make which leads them to fail when it comes to financial goals – and to be honest, I can’t blame them. Why be miserable, right? You can still enjoy life on a budget!
The good news is you can simultaneously be smart with your money and have a good time. It just requires you to be a little bit more conscious of what you want, some creative solutions and shifting your focus to earning more money.
Blog disclosure: This post is sponsored by the Florida Prepaid College Board, through my role as a Believer Blogger. All thoughts are my own.
If you’ve been following the blog for the last few months, then you know I’ve been talking about open enrollment season for Florida Prepaid College. I’ve discussed my personal experience with Florida Prepaid, how it works, and how to save $25 on your application fee.
For my Floridian readers who have already enrolled their children in this college savings plan – congratulations! You’ve taken a huge step in setting your child up for a future that is free of burdensome student loans!
For those that have not, you still have some time. Open enrollment ends at the end of February and you can still use my code Amanda1718 to save $25 off your application fee.
With this blog post, I wanted to discuss bust one of the myths pertaining to Florida Prepaid College because I have personal experience with it.
Myth: If you don’t use the money in the account, you lose it.
This is 100 percent false. The reason I know this is because my parents ended up not using my all of my Florida Prepaid money due to an issue with my institution of choice. The issue was resolved while I was attending school and they were able to use some of the money to offset the overall cost.
While Florida Prepaid is accepted in both public and private institutions across the country, sometimes unexpected stuff happens and that’s pretty much what occurred in my case. I’d also like to reinforce the point that the issue was not on the part of Florida Prepaid, but on the part of the institution where I was seeking my education. This was also ten years ago and, as I mentioned, the issue was resolved while I was at that school and my parents were eventually able to use some of the money.
The good news is my parents didn’t lose the money they weren’t able to use. All you have to do is change the beneficiary or request to have them give you your money back. That money went to my brother who ended up staying in school a couple of years longer than I did.
Had it not been for the unused money in my Florida Prepaid account, my parents would have had to find a way to pay for my brother’s additional education (or he would have had to take out loans). So, in the end, everything worked out beautifully and we both graduated debt free.
Now, hopefully, you won’t experience a rare circumstance like I did. Hopefully, your child gets a ton of scholarships that pay for their school and that’s why you won’t need to use the money in the Florida Prepaid account. Either way, there is a way for you to get your money back if you end up not using it for whatever reason. Florida Prepaid understands that things change, which is why they give you an easy way to get your money back.
Open Enrollment Ends February 28th
If you’re thinking of enrolling during the 2017-2018 period, time is running out! Open enrollment for the current season ends February 28th.
If you’re thinking, “Eh, maybe I’ll just do it next year” I urge you to think twice about that. You see, if you enroll NOW then you lock in current plan prices. If you wait until later, you’ll end up needing to save more money as plan prices increase.
Listen, I don’t know about you but I’m not spending more money when I don’t have to. If you’re on the same wavelength then NOW is the time to enroll your child.
How to Enroll in Florida Prepaid College
Applying for Florida Prepaid is very easy and only takes 15 minutes!
Make sure to use my promo code to get $25 off the application fee! Code is Amanda1718
From there, you automatically save money each month into the account. It’s that easy! And this small action will save your child lots of headaches later on.
My brother and I were able to graduate debt-free thanks to Florida Prepaid then your kids can too.
Want to know more?
Florida Prepaid College is hosting a free webinar on Tuesday, February 20th at 12:00 PM EST! They will be discussing exactly how Florida Prepaid works and how the program has been helping families like mine for over 25 years!
Want to be a paid freelance writer? Here’s what you need to know.
I get asked about how I created a career as a blogger and paid writer all the time.
There are a lot of aspiring bloggers and writers out there. The problem is most of them don’t know what they are doing.
That’s okay though, because neither did I when I started this journey almost eight years ago.
How my crazy ass career started…
For those who are new to me or this blog, here’s a little primer on how this all started. This is, of course, the Cliff Notes version.
I graduated from college in 2010 with a Bachelor’s in English Literature from a small private liberal arts school on the west coast of Florida. Clearly, this was an uber practical way to spend a hundred grand. It was also the besttime ever to find a job.
Long story short, I went several months without a job and started questioning everything I’d ever been taught about finding a career. Because, you know, this go to school and get a job thing doesn’t matter if the economy is in the shitter.
Being the hyperactive, ambitious Aries that I am, I literally cannot sit around and do nothing. It drives me nuts. This was manifesting in the form of panic attacks.
Basically, if I remember correctly, Guillebeau talks about living an unconventional life. At the time, that looked like making money on your earn terms (the man is proudly unemployable) and living life the way you want.
It was the first time I’d ever heard anything like this, and it made perfect sense to me. Shortly thereafter I got the idea to see if there was a way I could make money as a writer. I literally googled “How to make money freelance writing”
I made $5 my first month. And you know what? TO this day it’s still the best damn $5 I ever made because it showed me I could make money doing something I loved.
I was fucking hooked.
Then I got an even better idea.
My client at the time had some open assignments for personal finance articles. I knew absolutely nothing about money, but I knew I needed to learn. I thought, “What if I take these assignments and then get paid to learn about money?”
His point is this: Anyone can write. A ton of people can design. Not everyone knows how to run a business successfully.
There’s also a lot more to a business than having a particular skill. You need to know how to market and sell yourself. You’ll need shit like basic accounting. You need to know how to manage time, money and other people.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed right now, don’t worry. I didn’t know how to do any of these things when I started my business. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, learning from my mistakes and finding mentors to guide me along the way.
You’re not just a writer, you’re a subject matter expert.
A subject matter expert is someone who is knowledgeable in a certain topic. In other words, you have a niche.
In my case, I accidentally became a subject matter expert in personal finance. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize this until about three or four years into my writing journey, so I wasted a lot of time writing about a bunch of different personal development topics.
Once I niched down and stuck to talking about money, things started to change. I started getting offered more money for projects. People kept seeking me out instead of me having to hustle to find them. It also became a lot easier to secure clients and come up with content ideas for my own blog.
If you’re not sure what your niche is, I got you covered. Click here to get a free worksheet that helps you figure out your blogging niche.
A blog is pretty much just a marketing tool.
There is this misconception about how writers make money with blogs. Can a blog make you money? Yes it can in the form of affiliate marketing, ad revenue and influencer work.
However, when it comes to making money as a paid freelance writer, that usually refers to getting paid to write blogs for other people. For example, of my writing clients are major banks, insurance companies or Fintech companies. I get paid to write content for them.
The role my blog pays in all of this is that it positions me as someone who knows my shit. This is where I showcase my work and build a following, both of which help me get clients. And, of course, I’ve since learned to monetize this blog in multiple ways.
Seek out mentorship. It will make your life easier.
I’ve been investing in mentorship in some form or another since early 2013. I absolutely 100% feel that this is a major reason why I’ve had so much success – because I was willing to pay to get the help I needed and then I applied what I learned. I’m still willing to pay for mentorship – because what got me here won’t get me there.
Here are the different forms of mentorship and what they may look like:
Free trainings like webinars.
These investments in yourself and in your knowledge are 100% worth it – and tax deductible as a business expense! Additionally, you learn from experts so that you don’t waste time (and in the end more money) trying to figure it out by yourself.
Ready to become a paid freelance writer?
I teach an on-demand course that teaches you everything you need to know about how to become a paid writer! From how to market yourself to pitching clients and negotiating!
It may not be New York or San Francisco expensive, but it’s still pricey as hell. Since the city is also going through a seemingly never-ending renaissance, it keeps getting more expensive as time passes.
That being said, I love this crazy weird city. It’s home. And I’m pretty convinced our coffee game is the strongest in the U.S. Where else can you get a shot of a swift kick in the ass (AKA Cuban coffee) for $1?
I also wouldn’t trade living in the middle of a city for anything. I’ve always loved being in the middle of everything and for now that is still the case. In fact, the four years I spent on the west coast of Florida were HARD for me just because I was so bored.
Are you paying a premium to live in a city? Yes, you absolutely are. But you also get access to a lot of free stuff so in some ways it evens out. Here are some of the ways to save money while living in the city.
Live with roommates.
My roommate and I joke that we won the roommate lottery. She’s really good at design and styling and we’re the same size. Free clothes for the win! Meanwhile, I’m good with business and money and give her advice all the time. It’s a perfect combination.
Not to mention, we split the rent on a 2/2 condo in Brickell that overlooks Biscayne Bay. I’m paying what I’d be paying for a 1/1 further inland and south anyway, but I’m in a sweet neighborhood on the water instead. I’m also much closer to a ton of free entertainment and networking events and I’m still near my family so I can go visit grandma.
That being said, I don’t get this weird thing people have about not having roommates. I think Stefanie O’Connell and Paula Pant have written about this strange mentality too. I, for one, feel safer knowing I’m not alone in this apartment all the time. Also, it helps me save money while living in the city.
Get rid of your car if you can.
First of all, driving in Miami induces panic attacks. People are insane here and I simply cannot handle it.
Second, buying and maintaining a car keeps getting more expensive. According to AAA, you’re looking at dropping about $9,000 a year on a car. I’d rather put that $9,000 toward something that isn’t a depreciating asset – especially when I don’t actually need a car.
Are you really looking to save money while living in the city? If you live in a city, you can get away without having a car – even in Miami which has shit public transportation. The trick in Miami is to live in places that are centrally located and has access to bus lines. Or you can do what I did – live in an area where literally everything you could possibly need is within walking distance. For everything else there’s Lyft line.
A few weeks ago, I gave myself the challenge to be out as much as possible in an effort to make new friends. Of course, being the financially conscientious person that I am, I wanted to do this without burning through my bank account.
The good news is cities always have a ton of free events going on. In a matter of two weeks, I attended eight different events – all of which were free. These events included everything from beach cleanups and fitness classes to a networking event at a swanky hotel sponsored by Heineken.
There is literally no shortage of free stuff to do in major cities. Just go to the events section on Facebook to start looking for them.
Don’t just settle for saving money, find ways to earn more money, too.
Over the course of the last year, I’ve talked about how I’ve shifted my mindset from one of managing money to one of earning money.
In fact, I noticed that when I complained about how expensive living in a city is, I made less money. Meanwhile, when I shifted my focus to find more opportunities, the money showed up. Sometimes it showed up in the form of actual money and sometimes it was in the form of an idea or mentor who could help. This changed everything.
For example, I recently decided to start taking SoulCycle classes at a location up the street from my apartment. They are not cheap, but that’s okay because I can always just make more money on top of what I’m already earning. I’ve proven this to myself time and time again.
It’s time for another income report! I’ve made some promises to myself this year – one of them being to track my income more regularly. You guys also responded really well to my last income report so I guess I should at least try to make them a staple.
So here we go!
Why income reports?
Income reports are important because they show you the profit and loss in my business. In other words, you see what I’m earning (gross) and what I get to keep after expenses (net).
In a world where business coaches and online marketers inflate their numbers all the time, I want to show you all the REAL DEAL when it comes to running a business online.
I also want to show you what’s possible. If you’ve been following me for a while you may remember that I made $5 my first month as an online entrepreneur. If I can do it then you can do it too.
I know I still follow income reports regularly as a way of showing myself what I can look forward to. I remember following Michelle Schroder-Gardner’s reports back when she was making around $6,000 a month and I thought that was a big deal. Now she earns over $100,000 a month!
While I don’t know if I’ll ever get to the $100,000 a month mark, knowing that she also started from nothing gives me hope. Either way I’m making more money now than ever so I’m good and I’m just going to keep getting better.
And finally, I want to show you where I regularly INVEST money in my business. It costs money to keep this all going, and I want you to see where that money goes. I see way to many small business owners spending money on the wrong things. While I’m not perfect, I can tell you I’ve always made an annual profit because I know how to take calculated risks.
So without further ado…
January 2018 Income: $9,138.28
December 2017 Expenses: $3,316.84
Below you can see screen shots of my P&L report from QuickBooks:
January 2018 Recap
To be honest, while I normally tell you what worked and what didn’t in any given month, January is kind of a blur this year.
The first two weeks were ROUGH. I felt like I was treading water due to some business emergencies and some unexpected changes in my personal life. It was if shit hit the fan all at the same time.
I’m a pretty spiritual person, so I believe this is the Universe being like, “So you say you want this and that. Well, how bad do you actually want it?”
It’s like I tell my students and coaching clients, when you commit to big things you’re going to get tested. Your only job is to show up to the assignment and get the lesson. I think I successfully did that.
However, I was so overwhelmed physically, emotionally and mentally that I decided to take it easy the last two weeks of January. Rather than forcing things, I knew my top priority was to take care of myself. After all, the last thing I needed was to get sick. So, I mostly spent the last two weeks of the month hanging out with friends and family. I also started doing SoulCycle.
Fortunately, everything is now okay. I’m feeling much better and everything is back under control. Besides, I feel pretty good about the fact that I was still able to have gross revenue of $9,000+ even while slacking for two weeks. This makes me excited about what’s possible when I’m laser focused.
Also, the reason I wanted to start a business in the first place was so that I would have flexibility. Life isn’t perfect and there will be moments when we need to prioritize taking care of ourselves. Having an online business that is earning good money allows me to take a step back when I need to. That’s priceless.
CapitalOne Cafes are officially in Miami! I attended the opening for the Coral Gables location. Brickell and Miami beach locations are coming soon! CapitalOne is pretty much doing away with bank branches and bringing their café concept to the city. You can cowork, get money coaching and attend workshops – FOR FREE!
I went to my first SoulCycle class thanks to my coworking space. Then I went to class two, three and four. I think I’m officially in the cult. I needed to refresh my exercise routine anyway so I’m cool with being cultish. I can also always appreciate good branding. Besides, health is wealth.
Students and clients are doing amazing things! One student figured out her entire sales funnel in six weeks and a private client made a sale of $13,000! And yet another coaching client has made MAJOR money mindset shifts in a matter of each weeks. She went from earning $0 to figuring out a clear branding message and landing a new deal for the first time in months!
What’s to come:
One of the students in my Persuade to Profit program actually lit a fire under MY ass during one of our office hours calls. We got to talking about passive income through affiliate marketing and the need for consistent content. Since I’m taking a break from frequent travel, I’ve decided I’m going to start publishing more content on the blog. Make sure to sign up for email updates to be notified of new posts!
A couple of website tweaks. Nothing major, just a refresh to represent cleaner branding.
Shutting down the Make Money Your Honey Academy. This never took off like I wanted it to. I thought it would be my focus in 2017 but then I created Persuade to Profit which fit much better with my business. So, at least for now, I’m getting rid of the Academy. Maybe later in my business life I’ll try my hand at a membership site again.
Nailing down these Facebook ads. I’ve been messing around with Facebook ads for about a year and have been getting okay results. I also took Monica Louie’s Facebook ads course but haven’t been able to dive in too deep…until now.
Resources Mentioned In This Podcast Episode:
Podcast Episode 36 with Michelle Schroeder-Gardner of Making Sense of Cents. She makes over six-figures a month from affiliate marketing on her blog!
Usually, when I ask people about their relationship to money, they respond with how money makes them nervous. They usually feel inadequate and like they are lagging behind their peers. If this is you, then I urge you to learn how to love your money this Valentine’s Day.
What does it mean to love your money?
I could write a whole book on the topic. (Wait a minute – I have written a whole book on the topic! You can grab Make Money Your Honey on Amazon here!)
Here’s a quick cliff notes version of what I mean when I say love your money.
Ultimately, we have a relationship to money just like we have a relationship to a partner. It requires attention, love, commitment and a vision for the long term. It also requires us to keep our egos and our fears in check.
In my opinion, the ability to love your money means you’re less stressed about it. And, when you hit a rough patch, you trust yourself enough to get through it.
Is this easy? Hell no. It takes a lot of practice and self-compassion.
Is it worth it? Absolutely. Speaking as someone who has done a hell of a lot of healing with her own finances, doing the work to love your money will change your life.
Here are a few ways you can love your money (and yourself) this Valentine’s Day.
Go on a date with your budget – I try to treat my money the same way I would a date. I play nice music, light a candle and practice appreciation. On a practical level, it helps you feel less stressed as you look at the numbers. We have to train our minds to see money management as something we enjoy doing.
Skip the fancy dinner and go to a free event – I personally enjoy adventurous dates where I explore my city. I also happen to live in a city where there are a lot of free events going on all the time. If you do as well, skip the fancy dinner and go have an adventure instead.
Set up automatic savings plan – If you haven’t set up automatic savings yet, do it this weekend. If you feel like you simply don’t have enough money at the end of the month to save, then use an app like Qapital which saves tiny amounts – like rounding up purchases. Over time, you can end up with hundreds of dollars in spare change sitting in a savings account! Click here to use my referral link and we each get $5!
Make your Valentine’s Day dinner at home – I actually like to cook because I find it grounding and relaxing. I also love it when someone else cooks for me. I feel like it’s far more intimate and it’s a nice thing to do for someone – especially if you know they’ve been stressed out lately.
Start the 52 Week Savings Challenge – The 52 Week Savings challenge is an easy way to save money over time. You save $1 the first week, $2 the second week, $3 the fourth week, etc. By the end of the challenge you have $1,378! The best part is you can now do this automatically for free with an app like Qapital. Click here to use my Qapital referral link and we each get $5!
Find a money coach – A money coach is someone who helps you figure out what your values are and then helps you align your finances accordingly. If you happen to live in a city with a Capital One Café, you can get money coaching for free! I recently went to the opening of one in my city and will actually be signing up for free money coaching myself this Valentine’s Day.
Pay yourself every time you work out – Working out and saving money are two ways to really love yourself. What better way to practice self-love than to do both at once? With the Qapital app, you can create a rule where you pay yourself every time you work out. The app connects to Apple Health and uses the data to save money from your checking account every time you exercise. I have it set up myself and I love it! Click here to use my Qapital referral code and we each get $5 in our accounts!
How are you loving your money this Valentine’s Day?