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Travel Hacking for Rookies: 101

We’ve heard of the responsible way for managing credit cards by spending carefully, paying them off on time and in full.  However, what if there was a way to be responsible with credit cards and use them to earn us awesome travel rewards at the same time?  Enter the practice called credit card churning, discussed explicitly in a Reddit community (r/churning).

For those looking to travel hack their way to dream destinations on a shoestring budget, best practices can be found on how to credit card churn on Reddit.  Read more on how travel hacking works, what you can do to maximize your chances for doing it successfully, how to minimize your credit impact with hard inquiries, and how to use the Reddit Churning community to your advantage.

What is Travel Hacking?

With all the great credit card rewards programs out there, there has been a rise of people using these perks to offset the costs of everyday life.  Many programs offer cash back rewards, travel points, or other member features which make customers attracted to enrolling.

If these cards are used wisely, they can help you travel the world and the seven seas.  Travel hacking involves working within program rules established by airlines, credit card companies, hotels, rental car companies, and more and using them to cut the cost of travel dramatically.  This can include flights, lodging, food, and other available upgrades.

Despite the illicit nature of the term “travel hacking,” it is entirely legal.  Even better, it is quite simple to do and earning free flights, hotel stays, rental cars, or other desirable travel-related amenities is within reach of many able to navigate the available offers with a discerning eye.

The “hacking” part accelerates the process for accumulating those available points received through credit card rewards programs and sign-up offers.  Whether you want to travel the world alone, with those you love, or even travel the world for a job, travel hacking is a smart way to do it.

What are Credit Card Rewards Programs?

Credit cards offer you access to a line of credit when you need it.  If you pay your balance each month, you incur no interest charges and can build a robust credit history showing you worthy of having access to more credit.

Some credit cards also come equipped with credit card rewards programs which offer the cardholder benefits related to any number of things. Favorite examples include cash back programs where the cardholders receive a percentage of qualified purchases back as an account credit to use at their leisure or travel rewards points which can be redeemed to travel the world at little cost.

Depending on your card issuer, they can partner with several companies to offer travel points or rewards credits to be redeemed toward travel-related purchases or in place of paying for items altogether.

What is Credit Card Churning?

Now that you know more about travel hacking and how credit card rewards programs can earn you travel points, miles, or other units redeemable for travel rewards, you will need to understand how to accelerate your rewards balance accumulation.

Credit card churning is straightforward yet can be challenging to do if you aren’t sure of where best to look for the best credit card offers.  Put, credit card churning works like this:

  1. Find credit card offers. Look for several available credit card offers you have an interest using. Examples include credit cards with airline miles rewards programs, hotel stay points, or other attractive travel amenities.  What’s critical is assessing their sign-up bonus.
  2. Apply for those credit cards. Once you’ve identified the applicable programs of interest, you need to execute. Apply for the cards and prepare to spend enough money to qualify for the sign-up bonus.
  3. Spend the necessary minimum to receive a sign-up bonus. This is the part where some may struggle because each card almost always comes with mandatory minimum spending requirements to receive the sign-up bonus. However, if you make a lot of money, this might not be as hard. To meet these limits, you can find either bunch together many purchases you already needed to make and would be eligible for credit card payment, manufacture your spending or a combination of both.  Many people choose to wait until they have many purchases to make at once, like at Christmas, or near other significant events to bunch their spending.
  4. Cancel the rewards credit card. After you’ve spent the required minimum using organic or manufactured spending and received the sign-up bonus in your applicable travel account, you can cancel the credit card before you pay any annual fees.
  5. Rinse and repeat. If you found this to be useful for receiving a decent travel benefit, why stop after one attempt? So long as you can meet the minimums and find the sign-up offers worthwhile, continue credit card churning so you can rack up rewards more frequently than you would by using only one or two credit cards.  However, you should be mindful of the overall impact on your credit score, discussed more below.
What is Manufactured Spending?

Manufactured spending is a process to fabricate spending solely to meet the mandatory minimum spending requirements for credit card sign-up offers. This is a way of avoiding extra expenditure for the sake of meeting minimums and not having you waste money to earn a card’s sign-up offers.

The process works by buying items with a credit card which can then be converted to cash.

A widespread practice is purchasing a gift card and using this to make purchases at your leisure with a store or retailer already intended to be visited regularly.  From here, the credit card holder pays the card with cash and earns the sign-up offer without spending any extra money.

Looking at this from a cost/benefit standpoint, you can quickly assess whether the rewards earned outweigh the fees incurred.  If you have a net benefit, you can consider this process manufactured spending.  Some other common examples of manufactured spending include making Amazon payments, reloading existing gift cards with the credit card in question, funding bank accounts, and other financial accounts, etc.

Manufactured Spending Example

As an example, let’s imagine Fred signs up for a credit card which offers 50,000 free skyline miles once he spends $2,000 within three months of sign-up.  Fred could use his new rewards credit card to purchase a $2,000 gift card from Amazon, a place he frequently shops.

The $2,000 would go toward his credit card spending requirement, which he would pay with his bank account.  He can then use this Amazon gift card at his own pace knowing he would have spent $2,000 at Amazon anyway over a more extended period.

Using this Amazon gift card example further, Fred might be able to purchase a gift card from a retailer and use it to pay his credit card bill.

Or, he could go to another store to purchase a gift card using the credit card and use it to pay for money orders.  These money orders could be used to pay his credit card bill.  Either route avoids having to spend any money.

However, a word of caution before pursuing either of these routes.  Credit card issuers have smartened up to manufactured spending, and many have put rules in place to prevent you from gaming the system.

Many travel hackers bought reloadable cash cards at office superstores, grocery stores, or the like, but retailers have changed their practices in response.  Many now require most of these cards to be purchased only with cash.  Some companies have even instituted specific rules which limit the amount of credit card churning you can do within their credit system, such as Chase’s 5/24 rule.

What is the 5/24 Rule?

Chase Bank prevents widespread abuse of credit card churning by enforcing its 5/24 rule, which limits you to open a new credit card with Chase bank under certain conditions.  Specifically, if you have opened five or more personal credit cards across all banks or credit card issuers in the previous 24 months and apply for another through the bank, you will not be approved for the card.

Chase uses this rule to enforce credit card churners from gaming the system regularly but so far has been the only major bank to limit the practice.  Chase recently expanded the 5/24 rule to include all co-branded cards.  This information is relatively opaque because Chase never comments on the 5/24 rule, but multiple data points suggest denials due to the 5/24 rule for cards which were previously exempt.

Some cards subject to the Chase 5/24 rule include:

  • Chase Freedom
  • Chase Freedom Unlimited
  • Ink Business Cash Credit Card
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve
  • Chase Slate
  • Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card
  • Starbucks Rewards Visa Card
  • United MileagePlus Club Card
  • United MileagePlus Club Business Card
  • United Explorer Card
  • United MileagePlus Explorer Business Card

Be mindful of applying to these cards too frequently over 24 months as doing so could lead to account scrutiny and possible Chase account shutdowns regardless of your 5/24 rule status.

The Chase 5/24 rule isn’t the only factor considered when applying for these credit cards.  As is standard industry practice for all credit cards, lenders review your credit score, income, debt levels, and many other consumer credit variables related to your ability to repay the card balance.

Who is Credit Card Churning Not For?

Credit card churning is not for everyone.  Churning repeatedly can have impacts on your credit score if not managed wisely.  However, aside from the damage to your credit score changes, there are other risks to be aware of before proceeding with credit card churning as discussed on Reddit.

Be sure to think carefully before proceeding and consider if those credit card rewards are the best strategy if:

  1. You’re planning to make a significant purchase which requires a pristine credit score. Before setting down the credit card churning route, be aware of the credit implications. Credit card churning could affect your chances of getting approved for a mortgage, auto loan, business loan, or any other dominant form of financing. All these financing arrangements require good credit scores to receive favorable loan terms.  If you anticipate requesting a significant line of credit in the coming two years, think twice before pursuing the credit card churning strategy.
  2. You cannot control your credit card usage prudently. If you have a history of managing your spending poorly, having added spending power might not be the best option to have at your disposal. Taking on multiple credit cards and spending thousands of dollars to qualify for rewards points likely isn’t the smartest choice if you have trouble living within your means.  In this case, credit card churning isn’t for you.  It’s likely best to avoid Reddit to avoid the temptation.
  3. You lack organization skills. These credit card sign-up reward minimums are no joke. Some of them require you to spend thousands of dollars in tiny windows (think fewer than three months).  If you are not organized enough or have difficulty paying attention to the finer details, credit card churning could quickly turn against you.  Be sure to track the spending requirements, due dates, and fee schedules for these cards to avoid any negative consequences.  Not having these organization skills makes you a weak candidate for credit card churning and following the discussion on Reddit.

For a more robust discussion of why credit card churning might not be for everyone, see this thread on Reddit.

What is the Reddit Churning sub?

The Reddit Churning community describes itself as a place to discuss the finer details for churning credit cards as a means to profit from sign-up offers and membership rewards. The community is a place to share credit card churning success stories, failures, new credit card offers, and tips and tricks to make the most of your efforts.

10 Ways, the Reddit Churning Community, Can Help You

The community offers multiple recurring discussion threads to manage the above-referenced topics.  Specifically, the sub offers the following threads:

  1. Daily Discussion Threads. The regular discussion threads contain questions used for debate about credit card churning. There are also separate threads for other items like manufactured spending related to credit card churning.
  2. Daily Question Threads. These are useful for various questions, on-going credit card discussion, or other related topics.
  3. Manufactured Spending Weekly. A thread entirely dedicated for all things manufactured spending discussion. Here is where you share methods, ideas, pain points, and anything else you can think of related to manufactured spending.  Each thread also comes equipped with a link to an Introduction to Manufactured Spending.
  4. Frustration Friday. A repository for any complications encountered in your credit card churning journey. Topics usually include manufactured spending missteps or roadblocks but can consist of anything which frustrates you related to credit card churning.
  5. Storytime Weekly. A weekly digest of everyone’s ups and downs during the week related to credit card churning. The thread collects responses on trip reports, success stories, funny churning stories, and anything else relevant.
  6. What Card Should I Get Weekly? Think of this as crowd-sourced decision-making. This is where you ask r/churning about which credit card is best suited to your needs.  The thread even contains a flowchart break down the best card for your needs within the rule.  It’s best to look at this thorough flowchart before asking the community to avoid getting blowback from members (see below).
  7. Bank Account Bonus. Since credit card churning has grown in popularity, the sub separated the sign-up bonuses for bank accounts into its weekly thread. This includes all bank account discussion, including bank account churning mechanisms and data points.
  8. Data Points Central. The subreddit relies on sharing experiences and data points to optimize the credit card sign up offers made available by card issuers. This is a thread which is lacking of structure, though on purpose, and contains weekly data point sharing.
  9. Mega Threads. If there is a favorite subject for discussion or debate, the community can sometimes segregate this topic into its mega thread. If this happens, these are shown on the Reddit sidebar, and all related questions and comments should be posted there as opposed to standalone posts.
  10. Finding the best credit churning offers for you. This community is excellent for finding offers useful for helping you save money, travel the world low cost, and earn free money. This subreddit provides you the necessary data points and discussion to optimize your credit card churning efforts.
Pros of Using r/churning

If all of the above sound manageable and you’re still interested in credit card churning, consider visiting the sub.  In the community, members share their experiences and data points useful for you to track.

Some primary pros of using the Reddit Churning sub include:

  1. Multiple sets of eyes are better than one. As is the case with many things in life, having multiple people working on a task can make for less time commitment.  Make sure to vet each content submission in the group before proceeding with enrollment.
  2. You are socializing with others interested in the same goal. Discussing the credit card churning process with others can lead you to new ideas, offers, and means of meeting spending requirements. You can discover more efficient ways to manufacture spending or manage your credit card churning efforts.
  3. Readily available information. Managing credit card rewards spending progress is hard enough, never mind the task of finding contact information for each card issuer if you seek to cancel your card. The r/churning subreddit is filled with contact information useful for managing the credit card accounts you hold.
Cons of Using r/churning

Just as there are benefits to credit card churning and using the sub, there are drawbacks as well.  Some prominent ones related to the community and credit card churning in general include:

  1. Time Commitment. Learning to travel the world for free can be very rewarding as a young professional, retiree, or just about anyone else who’s ever enjoyed traveling on a minimal budget. However, if you must keep track of multiple credit cards, tally your spending on each, and make sure you pay any balances on time, it can be time-consuming.  Make sure you set aside time to follow the requirements of each credit card and to be mindful of payment due dates.  I’d strongly suggest logging all of your activity in a spreadsheet much like you would for creating a budget in Excel.
  2. Credit score impact. As discussed above, credit card churning for travel hacking purposes can lead to disastrous results on your credit score. According to the FICO credit scoring model, new credit inquiries impact your overall credit score.  Hard inquiries can remain on your Experian credit report for approximately two years, but only impact your FICO Score for 12 months. While applying for one or two cards is likely to have a minimal impact on your credit score, opening multiple accounts within a short period could raise a red flag and knock down your credit score accordingly.
  3. Closing accounts can also be costly on your credit. If you’re not planning to hold the card long-term and wish to close the account shortly after receiving your sign-up bonus, this could backfire for your credit score. This factors into your credit report as well.
  4. Lead to elevated spending. Using credit card churning can lead to high spending, which you otherwise wouldn’t have done. Manufactured expenditures can be a great way to combat this spending bulge but aren’t always as easy since many companies have changed their policies to counter this practice.

This subreddit is useful for finding excellent credit card churning opportunities.  The above are factors for your consideration before proceeding on your travel hacking via credit card churning journey.

The usual advice is offered for anyone visiting a forum:

  • Be mindful of others’ thoughts and motivation behind the information being given
  • Not all offers will be relevant to you and your situation; be sure to check the fine print of any offer you pursue
  • If you can’t control your spending habits, avoid r/churning
Travel Hacking Sources Other than Reddit Churning

For those looking to expand their resources for churning beyond just the Reddit Churning community, there are other sites available for your needs.  Some popular alternatives include:

  1. Credit KarmaCredit Karma has long been a source useful for tracking your credit score but has also expanded to other services in recent years.  The company primarily makes income from credit card reviews and affiliate links.  Recently, many have begun to turn to Credit Karma for taxes and other useful products.  The company reports multiple credit scores using the FICO scoring model and the VantageScore 3.0 method from TransUnion and Equifax.  While VantageScore credit scores aren’t used as widely as FICO scores for credit decisions, they can still provide a good idea of where your credit stands and how your score may be impacted by pursuing credit card churning.
  2. The Points GuyThe Points Guy is a site which does a deep dive into nearly everything credit card related. It provides detailed reviews of credit cards, blog posts about credit cards, credit scores, credit metrics, and numerous other topics.  If you’re looking for more credit card options and reviews, be sure to visit the site regularly for their latest content.

Conclusion

You’re now equipped with everything you’d ever need to know before beginning your credit card churning journey.  If you think this is the right fit for you and would like to travel for next to nothing, consider using r/churning to your advantage.

This post originally appeared on The Young and Invested

The post Beginner’s Guide to Travel Hacking appeared first on Your Money Geek.

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A Dime Saved was born after my incessant personal finance lecturing started boring my friends and family. Now, I give my advice to the internet anonymously and I don’t alienate my social circle. It’s pretty much a win-win!

I’ve always been interested in personal finance but my biggest “aha!” moment came when I lost my job. Newly pregnant, with a young son, I struggled for months to find a job. While we were spared the worst by still having my husband’s (low) income; it was a dark, dark time.

It really focused me on the importance of saving, investing, living below my means and giving charity. We still live on a low-income which I believe gives me a unique perspective in the personal finance world. I get the struggle because I live it.

My favorite blog post shows how I relate to money and budgeting. “How Budgeting Saved My Marriage” is the true story of how changing the way my husband and I dealt with money helped us relieve the money tensions in our marriage.

3 Blog Posts that I love

More mental accounting forms: the “endowment effect” and “nudge theory”

Personal Finance is not just numbers. It is about how we relate to money, how we feel about money, and ultimately how we behave with our money.

How I got my Friend interested in Personal Finance

It’s always great to read about how people learn about personal finance, change their lives and then help others change theirs.

How to Actively Support Financial Literacy in your Community

As a personal finance blogger, I think Financial Literary is extremely important! We all have a responsibility to do what we can to promote financial literacy in our communities.

Geeky Fact about me: I don’t own a T.V and never have.

The post Best of the Web: Hosted by A Dime Saved appeared first on Your Money Geek.

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Greetings, Your Money Geek nation!

I want to thank Michael for letting me share with you all today. I really admire YMG and the library of resources he’s created here. I am honored to share the stage briefly!

I am Mr. SR, and I run a site about Semi-Retirement. To me, semi-retirement is the best way for middle-class workers to achieve their early retirement dreams!

The topic of Barista FIRE has been on my mind often, so I’d like to discuss it with you today.

What Barista FIRE Gets Wrong

One growing sect in the Financial Independence, Retire Early (FIRE) movement is Barista (or “Coasting”) FIRE. The idea behind Barista FIRE is that you can front-load most of your retirement savings early in your career, then work as a barista (or some other low-stress, low-paying job) and let your investments grow. Then when you’re older and can’t work anymore, you can live off of your portfolio.

Barista FIRE gets a lot of things right, but there are some red flags you should consider before going down that path.

You will be dependent on your employer

In Barista FIRE, you are necessarily reliant on your part-time job for income during your early retirement years. That job will pay for most of your living expenses so that you can protect your investments.

This immediately eliminates many of the “independence” benefits of FIRE.

If you limit your part-time job search to low-stress hourly work, you will be at the mercy of your manager and whatever varying schedule or number of hours they throw at you. What if you have a doctor appointment, a friend in town to visit, or even just an itch to travel for the weekend? Oh well, hope you can work it out!

At your hourly gig, you can’t just decide to work a bit extra on a certain week if you’re feeling energetic.

If you Barista FIRE, you’re still working for “the man.”

You will not meet your productivity potential

In the corporate world, I believe there is a misconception about what productivity really is. Too often, it’s equated with the number of hours worked. In reality, productivity would be better measured by meaningful results produced.

At your hourly job, you’re signing up to keep trading hours for dollars. And your hours will be spent doing activities that someone else chooses for you.

Worse still, in Barista FIRE, you will likely be earning a meager wage. If your FIRE timing math is based on earning such a small amount, you will be forced to stay at your full-time career and continue your high savings rate for years longer than you need to.

Since time is our most precious and limited resource, staying at your 9 to 5 longer than you have to is a major loss.

You could be more productive in another form of work during your early retirement years. But, I am not suggesting that you need to burn the candle at both ends. I will address this below.

You will be restricted in your pursuit of meaningful work

On my home site focused on semi-retirement, I describe how many traditional retirees feel depressed or a lack of purpose after leaving full-time work. A lot of conventional retirees actually choose to go back to work, even though they don’t need the money, just because it’s enjoyable and can help them feel driven.

I argue that you should account for these future wages (if it sounds like something you and your family would be interested in) so that you can retire from your full-time work even sooner.

On the surface, this sounds very similar to Barisa FIRE, but there’s a fundamental difference.

Barista FIRE sets the goal as low stress, low wage work. Semi-retirement sets the goal as work that is profoundly meaningful.

The beauty is, though, that many forms of meaningful work will generate higher wages than serving coffees or similar roles.

From Glassdoor.com, May 15, 2019.

For example, let’s say you are a career accountant, and you decide to retire early and do a little part-time work. You could work as a barista and make $10 an hour. But, you really enjoy playing the guitar as a hobby. You could, instead, teach guitar lessons for $30 an hour.

Assume you would like to work for 15 hours per week, 46 weeks of the year.

Also, assume the following:

  • Current age: 35
  • Current retirement savings: $250,000
    • $100,000 will grow until later retirement years when part-time work is not possible
    • $150,000 will grow until early retirement, then be drawn down to supplement income
  • Annual income during full-time working years: $80,000
  • Annual saving rate: 25% ($20,000)
  • Planned annual retirement expenses: $45,000
  • 4% withdrawal rate during early retirement years
  • 6% annual investment growth rate after inflation, compounded annually
Barista scenario

($10 per hour)

Guitar teacher scenario ($30 per hour)
Annual income from part-time work $6,900 $20,700
Supplemental income needed from investments $38,100 $24,300
Total portfolio required to support this drawdown $952,500 $607,500
Years needed to grow the $150,000 to the target portfolio value 16.79 years 11.43 years

By choosing to teach guitar lessons, you can semi-retire over five years earlier than if you wait to Barista FIRE.

If you plan strategically, you can maximize your fulfillment during your early retirement years, while also doing work you enjoy.

In the example above, teaching guitar lessons is an hourly job, in a sense. But you have the flexibility to reschedule lessons or advertise to get new students as your preferences shift.

If you semi-retire to project-based work, like consulting or freelance writing, you will have additional flexibility to optimize your productivity, working whenever you choose.

If you remember one thing…

I’ve found that when discussing politics or religion, people often don’t believe everything that their “label” may lead you to expect. Likewise, I want to acknowledge that some people pursuing Barista FIRE may have bigger plans than serving espresso.

My final plea is this: in a personal finance sphere where we’re obsessed with optimizing dollars, don’t sell yourself short on time. You can earn more dollars, but your years are limited.

You can retire even sooner, and invest your time in work that you actually care about.

-Mr. SR

The post What Barista FIRE Gets Wrong appeared first on Your Money Geek.

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How to Invest in the Right Software for Your Industry

Running your own business requires a lot of planning, organizing, and prioritizing. Back in the old days, you’d have to use a paper calendar and a lengthy to-do list on a yellow notepad to keep track of all of the day’s tasks. But in the digital age, business management is a different story. In many ways, it’s more complicated to grow your business in the digital world, but there are also plenty of tools tailored to your very industry that are ready to help you do everything from running your payroll to improving workflow efficiency.

But with a sea of tech tools on the market, how do you choose what’s right for you? Use these tips to discover some industry-specific tools that could help your business, and learn how you can properly vet software tools for your business.

Ask Around

Before you commit to any new software additions, use your local network to find out if any other leaders in your industry are using tools that are working for them. Many industries have online forum communities that foster dialogue between business owners and experts. With a quick search online, you could find an engineering and technology forum, a hotel management group, or a restaurant management community. Don’t be afraid to source answers from the people who know your industry best.

Read Reviews and Compare

Maybe you have an idea of the product you want to test out. That’s great! When a product or service claims to solve all of our pain points, it’s tempting to say “sign me UP” and pay into a contracted service agreement as soon as possible. But many of these programs require hefty subscription fees and tough-to-break contracts so you may want to do some research before signing on any dotted lines.

Start by reading some reviews of the product, considering both the positive and negative ones. If other products do the same thing, you may also want to look at some comparison charts to help you weigh the pros and cons of each—check out this professional tax software comparison chart for example.

Take Advantage of Free Trials

Many software programs and services offer free trials that you should definitely take advantage of. Many free CRM trials even let you upload your customer data, integrate your invoicing tools, and get the support of a sales representative to help you build your platform with best practices in mind. This may sound time-consuming, but this extra step will help you evaluate how the product helps your business, and if the investment is right for your business.

Make Sure Everything is Integrated

The beauty of software and technology is that there’s something for just about every one of your business needs. But where it can get chaotic is when you have all of your eggs in different baskets, so to speak. Your invoices are one platform, customer contact information on another, and documented processes and procedures on yet another program. Remember: these tools are designed to help you and make your life easier, not complicate things. Therefore, it is essential that you integrate your apps to keep your workflow consistent.

And in order to integrate, you must ensure that they are integratable. Asking this simple question can help you avoid switching programs, processes, and struggling with inconsistent data that may derail your day-to-day workflow.

Implement Strong Training Practices

Not even the best app can solve your business’ biggest issues if you don’t train your staff properly. In order to make sure the tool is functioning as it’s supposed to, it’s important to make sure all of your staff is trained consistently. If one person is utilizing the program one way, and another person is doing something completely different, it’s only going to worsen any pain points your organization is experiencing. Try to train staff all on the same day to help make sure everyone is on the same page. This will help your staff adapt easier to the new process and increase the ROI of your new product.

In conclusion

With the right tools at your disposal, your business operations can drastically improve. But in order to find products that do just that, simply follow these steps, and you’re sure to find tools designed to accelerate your cash flow.

The post How to Invest in the Right Software for Your Industry appeared first on Your Money Geek.

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How to Avoid Buying a Lemon

It happens to everyone. The cashier at the grocery store is bagging your items: your salad supplies, your lunch meats, the rotisserie chicken. You don’t see it until you’re stuffing the grocery bags into the trunk of your car—you accidentally bought a lemon. Yuck!

We’re just being silly. A “lemon” is what you call a vehicle that has serious manufacturing defects that prevent it from running properly. We’re not talking about a worn carpet or chipped paint. Lemon vehicles have major internal faults that could prevent the car from functioning altogether, or they could actually endanger you while you’re driving. These faults may cost thousands of dollars to fix. You get a really sour taste in your mouth when you buy a lemon.

Thankfully, you can avoid buying a lemon if you follow a few simple rules during the car buying process. Here’s what they are.

Get a Vehicle History Report

If you’re going to buy a used car, it’s absolutely crucial that you get a vehicle history report. A vehicle history report basically gives a summary of that car’s history. It tells you how many people owned the car, and, more importantly, whether the vehicle was damaged in any collisions.

You’re not necessarily looking for small collisions where the only damage was chipped paint. You’re checking to see if the vehicle was in any larger collisions that may have caused severe structural damage. Vehicles can always be repaired after an accident, but the internal frame often suffers permanent damage and can’t be re-strengthened. That sort of damage could eventually cause a car to become a lemon. If the vehicle history report shows a major collision, you should exercise caution in buying the vehicle. If a dealership refuses to show you the vehicle history report, it might be a good sign that there are major collisions on its record that they don’t want you to know about.

If a vehicle has had an unusually large number of owners, it might be an indication that the vehicle came straight from the assembly line with a major defect. You’d be surprised at how many people struggle through auto problems and never bother to get it diagnosed. They just give up and decide to sell it off.

Buy a New Vehicle

The best way to surmount the problems that can come from a used vehicle is to buy a new vehicle. You’re not stupid for buying a new car. Although the price tag is higher, you’re going to be getting a fresh vehicle with only a minimum number of miles under its belt, and no collisions.

It’s true that sometimes, vehicles come straight from the assembly line with major damage. Or, major defects are discovered after the car is first released, and the vehicles are recalled. These occurrences are rare, but they do happen. If you want to minimize your chance of buying a faulty new vehicle, you might want to buy a luxury vehicle. Luxury vehicles are more expensive because there’s more care put into their assembly, and because they come with better components. You can find luxury vehicles at surprisingly good prices. Just search for a new Mercedes or new Audi for sale in your local area.

If you’re looking to buy a recreational vehicle, it might even be more important to buy one new because there are so many different features that could get damaged by prior owners.

Get the Vehicle Inspected Before You Buy

Whether you’re buying a used car from a dealership or from a private seller, you should always take it to a mechanic to get it inspected before you sign any paperwork. The seller could be lying about the actual condition of the car, or there might even be problems that the seller doesn’t know about. But choose a mechanic you trust and get the vehicle inspected so you’ll know for sure it’s not a lemon. All vehicle sellers should allow you to take a vehicle to a mechanic—it’s standard practice. This might be the best way to protect your investment when you’re buying a used car.

Test Drive the Vehicle

Last but not least, be sure to test drive the vehicle before you purchase it. Buying a car is a stressful process and some people get too hasty and don’t bother to give it a thorough drive before they buy. Be sure to drive it on both the street and on the highway, and test out its brakes, air conditioning, turn radius, and the vehicle’s electronics systems. Failures in any of these areas could indicate severe defects.

Don’t buy a lemon! Make lemonade out of your car purchase by just abiding by these simple car-buying guidelines.

The post How to Avoid Buying a Lemon appeared first on Your Money Geek.

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Believe it or not, the average American household spends 12.5% or just over $7,000on their food budget alone, annually. Crazy, right?

As the prices of grocery products increase year after year, people will spend more money on groceries.

One popular way that people do to save money on groceries is by using coupons. That said, clipping coupons can be time-consuming and may not be necessary at all times.

I admit that even though spending a few minutes clipping those is one way to trim your food budget, there are other ways to save money on groceries without coupons.

I have found there are many ways to save money on groceries that can bring those grocery bills down a few dollars, if not hundreds of dollars.

If you are ready to find what they are, read on!

8 Easy Ways To Save Money On Groceries Without Coupons

You’ll be surprised that you don’t have to think outside the box to save money without using coupons. My wife and I have used the following tips and tricks, which have brought our grocery from $400 to $150 for a family of 6.

Just FYI, we don’t eat ready-to-eat frozen foods to save money. 

1. Create a Grocery List

When my family makes a trip to any of the grocery stores near us, we always make a list of the things we need. We take a few moments to go through the contents of your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry.

Ask yourself … What are you running low on? What do you have in stock? What do you actually need for the week?

Don’t leave the house without looking at your refrigerator and/or pantry to take food inventory. Doing this will help you avoid buying more products than you need.

Also, getting in the habit of doing this will help with your impulse buying, which can eat away at your budget quickly. In fact, did you know that by avoiding impulse buying can save you up to 23% on your grocery bills?

That’s crazy! So, stick to the list if you want to save money.

2. Check the Ads Before Meal Planning

Shopping sales is an effortless way to reduce your grocery expenses.

You don’t even need to open the local newspaper anymore. Most stores have made it very easy to shop the sales by putting their weekly flyer on their website!

So, when you’re making your grocery list and menu for the week, you can easily combine these discount foods with the items you have on hand to put some easy cash back in your pocket.

If you’re like me, you are always thinking about how to save money on groceries and eat healthily.

You can maximize your savings by shopping the sales at more than one store. Check online flyers for multiple stores in your area and cross- compare prices on with what you need. In fact, some stores even offer price matching, saving you precious time with a little research up front.

3. Use Meal Planning Services

One way to keep your grocery bill so low is by using a healthy meal planning service.

What’s that?

It’s a service that sends you yummy, healthy meal plans and shopping lists each week. All the hard work is done for you so you can spend more quality time with family or do whatever else you’d instead be doing.

Using a healthy meal planning service can make a significant impact on your food choices, food quality, and food savings. Some people have praised meal planning services because of the ease, convenience, and the freshness of foods they provide.

Meal planning services are especially great for busy people who don’t have time to cook for themselves but want to eat healthily. In addition, they are great for those who always end up wasting food because they buy more ingredients than they need.

4. Use Leftovers

Leftovers can you save money when you consume them. Or they can be a waste if you are not a fan of eating leftovers.

In our household, when we cook, we also try to cook enough so that there’s leftover for lunch the next day. It not only saves us time on cooking, but it also gets us two meals out of one! It’s a win-win, and definitely a money saver.

If you’re looking to spice things up, think about ways you can reuse your leftovers in different ways. Maybe you made a fried chicken last night. Do you have anything in the pantry you can use to transform it into a completely new meal? Maybe you could turn it to a chicken pot pie or something.  

5. Make Your Own Frozen Foods

With two young kids, a staple in my household is preparing frozen food on the nights that we can’t get around to cooking. However, the price of frozen food can really add up, and that’s why we love to plan ahead and prepare our own DIY frozen food.

Believe it or not, making your own food and freezing them cost less than buying frozen food. Plus, you exactly know what ingredients are in those foods.

You can freeze just about anything, from meat (between 3 and 12 months depending on what type of meat it is) to even milk (3 to 6 months).

That said, some foods should not be frozen, which include raw and hard-boiled eggs and mayonnaise.

Hack: Save money by buying meat in bulk when they are on sale, cooking them, and freezing them. Meat-based meals can last up to 12 months in the freezer.

6. Earn Free Money From Your Groceries (I made $383.25 to date)

Heard of money saving or money making apps for groceries?

One of the popular ones that people like to use when they want to save money on groceries without coupons is Ibotta.

Ibotta is a money-saving app that helps consumers save big on all the biggest brands (even the store brand ones). Whether you’re buying oatmeal by Quaker Oats or bananas, you’ll find that Ibotta offers cash back on just about any grocery products.

If you’re spending too much money on groceries and want to save money and make money, at the same time, week after week, Ibotta may be for you! Not to mention the fact that you’ll get a $10 bonus from signing up.

Last year alone, I earned over $300 using it. Granted that my family only spends around $150 per month, chances are if your grocery expenses are higher, you’d be getting more with Ibotta.

7. Get to Know Your Clearance Sections and Markdown Schedule

Saving money on groceries doesn’t mean you always have to buy the cheapest of the cheap stuff. You can buy pretty great products on clearance, even at the grocery store. Many grocery stores have multiple clearance sections. Usually, these sections are not advertised very well (if at all), so it takes a trip to the grocery store to scope out.

That’s where getting yourself familiarized with the layout of the grocery store, where things are, where the clearance spots are, among others can be helpful in saving you money on groceries.

Next time you’re grocery shopping, make sure to check the following sections: bakery, produce and non-perishables. After you find where these sections are in your local grocery store, make sure to check back each week to see what deals you can get.

While you’re at the store, it’s also a good idea to talk to an employee or two about the markdown schedule. That way, you’ll know exactly when the best time is to raid the clearance rack for produce or whatever you may need!

8. Compare the Unit Price

And last but not least is one of the most straightforward ways to save money on groceries, that is, comparing unit prices.

It’s easy to get confused when you are bombarded with a ton of products of the same kind. You can do the math in your head or on your calculator, but there’s a better or easier way to see which product is less expensive.

The unit price for a product is usually in small print in the corner of the sales tag. It often says something like ‘$0.45/oz.’ This number comes in handy when you’re trying to compare two similar products and see which one is better. Usually, the cheaper one per unit is the way to go.

All that being said, you should also consider the quality of the products. Just because one product is cheaper than the other doesn’t mean it’s a high-quality product. Sometimes, you might end up paying a little bit more to ensure you’re getting the quality you deserve.

In Summary …

So next time you’re planning a grocery store visit, remember, there is money to be had if you’re willing to put even the slightest effort in.

Above all, remember that being able to save a ton of money on groceries without coupons doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and practice.

If it were easy, then, a lot of people would be saving a lot of money now.

Don’t bang your head if you cannot figure it out on the first try. It happens. As you get familiar with the tips and tricks mentioned above, the easier it is for you to apply them. In due time, using these tips will be second nature to you.

What’s your favorite easy way to save money on groceries? Did we miss anything?

Bio information

Allan Liwanag is the blogger behind The Practical Saver. An analyst by day and dedicated blogger by night, he loves to share his thoughts – based on his research, personal knowledge, and experience – on topics related to family, life, and money.

The post 8 Easy Ways To Save Money On Groceries Without Coupons appeared first on Your Money Geek.

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The Editorial team at The Money Mix recently interviewed me regarding my experience with work at home jobs and ways to make money online. They were on a mission to identify legitimate work at home opportunities, the result is they identified the ten best jobs. I have republished their findings so you can enjoy an unbiased review of work at home opportunities  

10 Best Work From Home Jobs Ranked 

At The Money Mix, we are sticklers for the numbers, and our primary goal is to discover the truth wherever it lies – and, this new study about the best work from home jobs is a huge step in that direction.

The Money Mix team personally invested numerous hours researching, interviewing workers, and testing all different kinds of work from home jobs to compile this list.

Our goal? We were determined to find the best and most accessible remote jobs that fit all kinds of individuals, lifestyles, and living situations that didn’t require special privileges, connections, or experience levels to get.

This guide will help you find the best work from home job, whether you are looking for constant interaction with others, a fixed schedule, an on-demand arrangement, or to take your career in a new direction.

We are thrilled to announce that our top pick was Symposium.

Symposium scored well across the majority of our criteria, including the upfront investment, training or certification requirements, flexibility, and earning potential. These are all key factors when considering a remote working opportunity.

Read this full guide in its entirety to see the complete list of the best work from home jobs for 2019!

Why Work From Home

If you are reading this guide, there is a good chance you are looking for a work from home job or are looking to transition away from a traditional desk job. Whether you are looking for a more laid-back work environment, more control over your time, or increase your earning potential, it’s easy to see why working from home can be an attractive option.

In the past, work from home jobs were seen as perks offered only by IT companies or startups competing for the world’s best talent. The fact is that many of the top companies in the world are now continually seeking to hire remote employees for several reasons.

Working From Home Makes You Happier (& More Efficient!)

According to a Stanford University study, which was published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, employees who work from home report higher job satisfaction, are more engaged in their work and are also more efficient workers.

It’s hard to argue with more job satisfaction and higher efficiency!

The reality is that many people need to work from home for health, family, or other reasons. Years ago, you had to accept lower quality or lower paying job to work from home, but the tide is turning, and there are tons of excellent opportunities if you know where to look for them.

Who Should Work From Home

If you’ve ever fantasized about quitting your 9-to-5 job to work from home, there are a few things you need to know to set yourself up for success.

Today, most companies have extremely structured work environments to get the most out of their employees. After all, not every worker is a go-getter, and some require a bit of an oversight.

This means that to make sure you have what it takes to succeed in working from home, you need to be self-motivated, organized, and have excellent communication skills. If you aren’t able to do those things, you might be better off keeping that 9-to-5!

But if you’re ready to spread your wings and fly free, keep reading to see our top work from home jobs!

The Pros and Cons Of Work From Home Jobs

When considering remote job options, it’s wise to keep the positives as well as the negatives in mind. Yes, there are negatives to working from home. It’s not always a good match.

The Benefits Of Work From Home Jobs

By and large, the flexibility offered by work from home jobs is what makes them so appealing for so many people. Being able to work whenever you are able to and not needing to stick to a fixed schedule is the biggest asset of working from home.

If you are looking to work from home to avoid the commute but still want a more traditional career, there are many full-time opportunities available as well. It’s true that working from home is no longer only for those who can’t work at least 40 hours per week.

In fact, we found that many of the workers we interviewed liked working from home because they could flex their hours up and earn more money when they needed it.

And, working from home lets the worker design his or her work environment from the ground up. Using a work environment that’s free from distractions, remote workers can maximize their own living space to get the most out of where they spend their time.

The Downsides Of Working From Home

When it comes to working from home, you’ll likely be spending the vast majority of your time on the computer or the telephone depending on your role. This means that you’ll be spending less time interacting with other people in an office (unless you work from a co-working space).

The #1 downside that we heard from employees who previously worked from home and went back to working in an office was that they felt isolated working from home.

If you are someone who has limited social interaction outside of work and knows this is a critical aspect of their job satisfaction, you’ll need to specifically look for jobs that require virtual interaction (our #2 job might be the perfect fit).

And, the remote position requires a good amount of discipline and time management. If you aren’t a self-motivated person who can buckle down without a boss in the office, you may struggle.

And now, without further ado, here’s our Top 10 work from home positions for 2019.

Top Work From Home Jobs
  1. Symposium
  2. VIPKid
  3. Amazon
  4. Aetna
  5. Airbnb
  6. TranscribeMe
  7. Rover
  8. Belay
  9. Magic Ears
  10. Virtual Assistant (various companies)
1. Symposium

Symposium is one of the fastest growing opportunities in the industry.

If you haven’t heard of Symposium before, that’s going to change. The company built a platform which gives users the ability to host or attend live pay-per-view broadcasts.

Symposium scored nearly perfect marks across the board. What sets Symposium apart from the competition? Symposium was the only company we found that didn’t require or “strongly recommend” the need for a computer. As long as you have an iPhone running iOS or Android, you’ll be able to get started on their platform.

How does Symposium work? Symposium allows you to host ‘one-to-many’ live broadcasts on a pay-per-view model. This means that you can potentially have thousands of people tuning in and paying to see your live session, which means the sky’s the limit when it comes to your earning potential on the platform.

And, it’s up to you what you talk about. Design each presentation around your level of expertise. Hold broadcasts in the middle of the night if that’s when your audience is watching. In other words, flexibility is nearly unmatched.

The platform is catered to working professionals seeking coaching, advice, tutorials, or any other type of session you can imagine. Not sure what you have to teach others? Most people have a hobby, skill, or experience which is unique and highly valuable. Think outside of the box.

For example, if you know the holidays are approaching and you’re an expert at making a Thanksgiving meal with all the fixings, you can easily schedule a session to cover how to prepare those meals from scratch.

Symposium is the perfect platform for those who demand flexibility in their schedules, are self-motivated and have solid communication skills.

2. VIPKid

VIPKid is a leading online education company headquartered in China and San Francisco. The company has been valued at over $3 billion and has quickly established itself as a leader in the field. The company matches American and Canadian teachers with Chinese children for virtual English language lessons.

All courses are conducted entirely in English, so absolutely no knowledge of Chinese is required. The company does have educational requirements for tutors, so you must have a bachelor’s degree (in any field of study) to join the platform.

If you want to take full advantage of the platform, you should plan to work in the early morning hours due to the time difference with China. Class payouts usually start at a base rate of $8, and each class is 25 minutes. You receive a $1 bonus for completing the class, and another $1 bonuses are added once you’ve taught 45 classes in a month (less than two classes a day), which means you’re making a total of $20 per hour.

Some teachers we spoke with began earning between $7.50 – $8.50 on the platform per class, but rates tend to increase as you build your reputation as a stellar teacher.

Finally, VIPKid was the one job where the word “fun” was used the most often to describe their work, which we thought was pretty awesome.

3. Amazon

Everyone is familiar with the global retail giant, but few are familiar with the fact that they are leaders in the virtual working space.

Amazon always has numerous job postings for virtual working locations on their virtual job board. These opportunities are perfect for individuals looking for a more standard work arrangement from the comfort of their home since most of the jobs are full-time.

Jobs start at minimum wage, but go up from there, with one current employee telling us they began at an annual salary of $62,000. Not bad considering they spend most days in their pajamas in their home office.

4. Aetna

You probably know Aetna as the large managed health care company, with millions of members participating in their health insurance plans. Like Amazon, they’ve established themselves as a leader in the work from home space.

Founded in the 1800s, this is a stable employer for anyone who needs a robust benefits plan, as well as a more structured work environment. Unsurprisingly for an insurance giant, many of their jobs are for data entry, data analysis, reporting, and reviewing information. This means they often require a degree or prior related experience.

The benefit of working for a company with a strong work-from-home network is that they have the support, training, and other programs to help you succeed in your remote position.

5. Airbnb

At this point, the chances are that you have either stayed at or know someone who has stayed at an Airbnb. The company started as a more affordable alternative to hotels for those on the go and is now hosting more bookings daily than Hilton hotels globally.

This means that as a host, you’ll spend less time trying to convince people to book a room in your home, and more time deciding what to do with the money that rolls in.

We spoke to several individuals who are hosts on Airbnb, and they ranged from new users hosting a single room in their home, up to power hosts with multiple properties being rented simultaneously.

There is a lot of money to be made on the Airbnb platform, but you should realize that to make enough money to live off of, you’ll likely need to be renting several rooms or properties. For example, renting a single room for $50 a night will net you $1,500 per month (before Airbnb takes their cut), which is a nice extra check to get, but you’d be kidding yourself if you think that’s enough to live off of.

However, for those that are more entrepreneurially minded, there is ample opportunity to make serious cash on this platform.

6. TranscribeMe

If you came here to see a more ‘traditional’ work from home job on this list, you’d be happy to see TranscribeMe on this list. The company offers speech-to-text transcription services and translation services around the world. You work as much or as little as you want, and you do it on your schedule. What’s not to love about that?

If you love to write, want a job that requires little training, and love to learn about many different topics, then this might be the perfect match.

Their pay starts at 33 cents per audio minute, which comes out to $20 per hour!

7. Rover

In the world of stay-at-home jobs, you can find nearly anything you can dream up. And yes, that includes playing with puppies and getting paid for it.

Rover is a dog sitting or overnight dog boarding platform, which matches dog owners who need a dog sitter for an upcoming trip, party, meeting, vacation, etc., with dog lovers looking take great care of pets. The company also offers dog walking services.

Become a sitter on Rover doesn’t have a lot of formal requirements, but the company does everything they can to ensure that they find qualified dog sitters.

We met with a dog sitter who has relied on Rover for over two years for a full-time income, and she makes roughly $3,000 per month taking care of three dogs at a time. Those who do this part-time can earn approximately $1,000 per month, which isn’t bad for an activity

This is only an excellent opportunity for those of you who are true animal lovers and would take incredible care of these awesome pets.

8. Belay

Belay is a virtual personal assistant company which matches people looking for extra help so that they can be more productive, with awesome people working from home.

The services they offer include virtual assistants, virtual bookkeepers, and website specialists. They do require that all applicants go through an assessment process to make sure that you are a good fit for the company. Once approved, they will match you with a client who is a good fit for your skill-sets, abilities, and interests.

According to one insider who we spoke with on the condition of anonymity, you can expect to earn roughly $16 per hour as a virtual assistant. Virtual bookkeepers with substantial accounting experience can expect to receive more on the platform.

One person also mentioned the fact that there’s no shortage of work on the platform, but that finding the right client is critical for long-term success.

9. Magic Ears

Magic Ears is an English learning platform for student ages 4-12. The company provides a 1-on-4 teacher to student ratio, which creates a fun learning environment.

Due to the larger class size, they can pay between $22-$26 per hour, which is substantial. The company, which is based in Beijing, requires that all instructors be from the US or Canada and be native English speakers. Unlike VIPKid, the company does require a six-month commitment, which we assume is there to justify the training they provide teachers.

A high-speed internet connection is also desired so that the connection with students is of high quality.

This is an excellent option for educators or individuals who seek to interact with others throughout the day.

10. Fiverr

Unlike, the others on this list, Fiverr is a platform in which you can find work from home opportunities and gigs. It made the list because it was often cited as a reliable place to find excellent opportunities managing social media accounts and profiles.

To become a social media manager, you should be able to regularly create new social media content for your client, as well as manage their social media presence. One work-from-home social media manager that we spoke with focused exclusively on Pinterest, and earned $2,500 per month, working only 20 hours per week since she had several clients who needed similar work.

Fiverr gigs typically start at just a few dollars for basic projects, but the beauty of the platform is that it’s super easy to join and start earning money. If you have a great talking voice, you can even focus exclusively on voice-overs!

You’ll have to do several gigs to make enough money to replace a full-time income, but it’s possible if you establish yourself and build a strong Fiverr reputation!

Summary

If you are ready to start working from home, we know these ten jobs are the best of the best. While our list only includes the top 10 work from home jobs, there many more that we evaluated. This means that you should also do your research when deciding where to apply for a job.

If you are not sold on the idea of working from home, that is okay because we created the ultimate guide to making a resume (some work from home jobs still require a resume!) so that you can get noticed for your dream job.

This post originally appeared on The Money Mix

The post The 10 Best Work From Home Jobs: Reviewed and Tested appeared first on Your Money Geek.

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The following post was writing in partnership with Interactive offers.

Google Adsense. It seems like Google’s Adsense advertising platform is the default mechanism that bloggers use to make money from their sites. It’s an easy system to get into, but that is also a considerable part of the problem. It’s too easy.  Today, we’re going to talk about some Adsense alternatives. 

The barrier to entry in Adsense is so low that the ads are not customizable and, frankly, bloggers have very little control over what they’re showing their audience. This can be an unpredictable way to website monetization. Worse, Google’s cost per click payout has shown signs of a decline.

That is a huge problem for bloggers who want their sites monetized and earn extra income. Google Adsense provides a lot of flexibility, but unless you’re exceptionally experienced with ad serving psychology like ad placement for banner ads, you might be shooting yourself in the foot. Google won’t optimize the ad placement on your site. That’s your job. They won’t test the best images, locations or types of ads on your website. Again, that’s all on you.

And, that’s one of the most significant drawbacks of Adsense. Most bloggers haven’t experienced marketers, and understanding how people make buying decisions, based on the placement of ads, is well beyond the scope of most bloggers. Most want to write and earn some cash.

For example:

    • Fill rate impacts earnings (fill rate = # of ads answered vs. # of ad requests made)
    • Website content influences how effective a banner ad will perform
    • How many ads are you okay display as a way to earn money?
  • Do you prefer CPM ads, PPC ads or something different? More on this below!

And for a lot of bloggers, Adsense revenue (earnings) is hit or miss.

I started with Google Adsense too, but as I soon discovered, I was leaving money on the table. There are a variety of other ways to monetize blogs that pay better, offer more flexibility and more control over the ads that bloggers show their audience, and that’s a huge component of building a positive reputation as a blogger.

Reputation matters.

If you’re blogging about saving money and personal finance, ads about new cars or expensive electronics run contrary to your entire message. The inability to control advertisements kills the credibility and authenticity of too many bloggers.

But luckily, there are a ton of alternatives to Google Adsense that bloggers need to be aware of.

Top Five Alternatives to Google Adsense

Google Adsense isn’t the only game in town. Here are the best Adsense alternatives.

#1: Interactive Offers

One of the best providers of ads is a service called Interactive Offers. Strictly, Interactive Offers isn’t necessarily an Adsense alternative because they can be used together. The goal of Interactive Offers (and other ad networks like it) isn’t to display a bunch of untargeted, meaningless advertisements to broad audiences – almost like casting a wide net in a sea of fish.

When you’re fishing for a particular type of fish (your target audience), it’s wise to target where those fish are. Connecting your ads to the right audience, in the right place and the right time is how bloggers get the biggest bang for their buck. Targeted traffic. This is what separates average ads from GOOD ones. Ads that pay dividends.

This is text advertising at its best, and its potential is enormous.

And, here’s my favorite part: They fully support email-based advertisements.

Listen, bloggers: Your email list is probably the most underutilized source of revenue that you’ll ever experience as a blogger. Email lists are ripe for monetization, and you cannot do that with Google Adsense (and it’s against the terms of service of other monetization services such as Amazon.com). If you’ve gone to the trouble of building a massive email list, advertise to them.

Don’t waste a prime opportunity to generate revenue, especially with your email list.

Interactive Offers has highly competitive payouts, which means you earn more money per click than many other services out there. Their cost per click system means you’re generating revenue even if the person on the other end doesn’t buy a product or sign up. They click. You get paid.

The average CPC (cost per click) is $2 – one of the best in the business.

They also support SMS, Push and Display ads, offering a full service, one-stop-shop for virtually any kind of blog monetization. And, you can pick the individual ads that you want your readers to see. That’s a huge draw that most bloggers love to have.

We highly recommend checking out Interactive Offers if you’re looking to monetize your blog – the smart way. If you think they might be a good fit, signup and give it a try.

#2: Mediavine

Mediavine is a display ad network that’s gaining traction among many bloggers – especially food and personal finance bloggers. They provide in-content and “sticky”-type sidebar advertisements meant to drive revenue through display ads on your website. Unfortunately, they don’t cleanly support email-based ads like Interactive Offers.

But, they are one of the top display-ad providers in the business if your only (or primary) focus is on monetizing your blog’s front end pages. As of the time of this writing, they require at least 25,000 sessions per month before you can apply for the program (note that sessions are different than pageviews).

All Mediavine customers get access to a simple dashboard to view your income and payouts, RPMs and other numbers that you might care about. It is relatively easy to use.

And, bloggers can opt out of ads by topic (i.e., alcohol, dating, fast food, etc.). Though Mediavine does not support the ability to pick and choose specific ads to display, the ability to opt out is the flexibility that most bloggers need to have.

Mediavine’s customer support is on-point and highly engaged, definitely a huge step up from Google Adsense.

And, if you’ve been banned from using Google Adsense, you’re still okay to use Mediavine if you meet the company’s other requirements.

#3: Amazon.com affiliate marketing

Among the different affiliate networks, Amazon is probably the most well-used. A lot of bloggers are a part of the Amazon.com affiliate program. As a part of this program, Amazon pays referring blogs a percentage of the sale from every click from a blogger’s website. With a lot of traffic, Amazon affiliate marketing can generate a lot of revenue.

But, you need to have web traffic first. Otherwise, marketing affiliate products don’t work.

And, you’ll need to be a clever enough affiliate marketer to get people to click on those product links. Some bloggers do this very well, but it very often requires a lot of experience and trial and error before bloggers begin pulling in serious money from Amazon.

On one of my blogs, we might pull in $80 to $100 a month – hardly anything to write home about. Most months, we’re generating $20 to $25 bucks.

Affiliate marketing is labor intensive, and it takes a lot of time to get right. It’s not something that bloggers set up in a weekend and then retire a month later.

It’s relatively easy to advertise with the Amazon platform, but you cannot advertise with affiliate links within the email. It is strictly against their policies, which means you’re once again underutilizing one of the biggest potential money-makers that you have at your disposal. Your email list.

#4: Monumetric

“Ad management done right,” according to their website, Monumetric (formerly known as ‘The Blogger Network,’) is another ad management service that monetizes blogs through the use of display ads. They break up their services by the number of pageviews of the blog:

Monumetric is a step up from Google Adsense for several reasons:

  • Monumetric will come up with a strategy for ad placement after signing up
  • Engaged customer support; 7 days a week, in fact
  • Flexible ad types, such as video, mobile-optimize and native adverts
  • The more pageviews you get, the more features you’ll have at your disposal
  • Up to six advertisements per page (Google Adsense limits bloggers to only three)

But, there are several disadvantages of Monumetric too.

  • It’s $99 bucks if you have less than 80,000 pageviews a month
  • Net-90, which means you’re waiting 90 days before getting paid
  • They require at least 10,000 pageviews per month (better than Mediavine’s 25,000 sessions)
  • It can take several weeks before getting approved

And, if you’ve been banned from using Google Adsense, you’re still okay to use Monumetric if you meet the company’s other requirements.

#5: Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing, in general, is an avenue that many bloggers use to monetize their web sites with specific niche products or services (inside and outside of Amazon).

In short, affiliate marketing is where bloggers receive a commission for advertising for specific products or services. Generally, this is tracked through a “referral link,” or “affiliate link.” The link contains a code that uniquely identifies the blogger and, if the user clicks the link and performs some action (like signing up for service!), the blogger gets a commission.

Some examples of what bloggers market with affiliate links:

  • Credit cards
  • Learning courses
  • Free online services
  • Bonus upsells
  • Coupons, spreadsheets, and calculators

The possibilities are endless. Believe it or not, affiliate marketing happens all over the place. And through services like Teachable and Send Owl, setting up affiliate services for products and services that you’ve designed is simple and effective for almost everybody.

But, affiliate marketing isn’t easy. It takes a lot of experience and trial and error to get it right. Bloggers can’t slap up a product and expect people to flock toward it through their affiliate link. And, affiliate relationships need to be disclosed in most cases, too.

And, most affiliate programs require a sign-up – not just a click. Meaning, it’s not enough for a reader to click on an affiliate link for you to get credit. In most cases, they’ll need to buy before you get any money. It’s a CPA, or Cost Per Action set up rather than CPC (Cost Per Click or Pay Per Click).

Successful bloggers make affiliate marketing work, but it doesn’t come easy.

How to choose the best Adsense alternative

While Google Adsense might be the most accessible ad platform out there to get into, it’s very rarely the highest paying. The flexibility that comes from picking and choosing your ad placement also means it’s ripe for failure unless you’re a skilled marketer.

And, you’re missing out on exploiting your email list. Services like Interactive Offers and Skimlinks helped to fill that void with text-based advertising. Viglink has emerged as another attractive option. Is it right for you and your blog?

Here are a few questions to ask yourself when deciding on an advertisement platform for your blog:

  • How much money am I looking to make? Am I looking to get filthy rich or make a few extra bucks here and there?
  • How big of an email list do I have? Can I make money off of that (the answer is probably YES)?
  • How many pageviews/sessions do I have? Could I even apply to services like Mediavine and Monumetric?
  • Can I pick and choose individual ads? Do I even need to?
  • What types of ads are supported? For example, can I display text-based, image-based as well as video-ads? And, are they all mobile-friendly?

And, pay close attention to how you’re paid.

In a cost per click (CPC) model (my favorite), bloggers are paid every time a reader clicks on an ad.

In a cost per mile (CPM) model, bloggers are paid a fixed amount of money for every 1,000 ad impressions (displays). This is also known as cost per thousand.

In cost per view (CPV) model, the blogger is paid every time the ad is displayed and viewed by a reader.

In a cost per action (CPA) model, the blogger is paid only after the reader acts, such as buying a product, installing a plug-in or signing up for an email list.

This post originally appeared on The Money Mix and was written in partnership with Interactive offers and Influencer Network.

The post The Top Five Adsense Alternatives To Make Money From Your Blog appeared first on Your Money Geek.

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Today I am thrilled to announce actress, filmmaker, and the perpetually positive Giovannie Espiritu, who has agreed to share her success story.

Giovannie Espiritu: Takes Us To Acting School

My questions/comments are in bold, Giovannie’s follow in plain text

About Giovannie Espiritu

Actress and filmmaker Giovannie Espiritu (IMBd) was nominated alongside Academy Award Nominees Alfre Woodard and Amy Irving for Best Supporting Actress at Method Fest for the Mynah Films feature film Fiona’s Script. Her primetime credits include a recurring role on ER (NBC), Bones (FOX), Gilmore Girls (ABC), and Trauma (NBC).

She has voiced characters in international video games and cartoons, directed several theater productions at the Herbst Theater in San Francisco, and produced several short films. She can currently be seen as the series lead in the Amazon series, “Dyke Central,” which was featured in After Ellen, BuzzFeed, and Curve Magazine as a top lesbian series to watch.

She has supporting roles in three upcoming movies: a feminist film called, “Solstice,” with Mynah Films; a thriller called, “Cold Pressed,” that was recently released on Amazon Prime; and a pivotal role in the upcoming thriller, “D-Railed” with sci-fi icon Lance Henriksen.

She is the founder of Hollywood Actors Workshop, a school for kids, teens, and adults who are serious about working in film & television. Her students are series regulars, book national campaigns and sign with top agents and managers nationwide.

As a believer in Gandhi’s maxim, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” Giovannie began writing as a way to create more diversity in the film industry and is currently studying at the Upright Citizens Brigade in Hollywood.

Giovannie’s parody song, “An Introvert’s World,” reached 3.2 million views when YouTube star Tessa Netting took the lyrics without permission and used them for her own channel. Even so, Giovannie’s ultimate goal and “nefarious plan” is to break hearts wide open to create more empathy and compassion through storytelling.

How did you get started in your career?

I actually got started in a weird way. I was part of a cult when I was younger, and I used to WANT to talk to telemarketers on the phone because they were my only connection to the outside world, and one of them said that I should get into voice-overs.

I didn’t know what that was, so I looked it up and I sent a really bad, awkward demo to the biggest agency in San Francisco that I could find.

They ended up calling me in, signing me, sending me out to my first audition, and I ended up booking the job and recording it all on the same day. Looking back, it was kind of insane.

What does a typical day look like?

I will usually have my coffee in the morning, get some writing, paperwork, voice-over auditions done… then go to any auditions during the day, and teach or have class in the evenings.

As a performer, I feel like it’s important to be training like any athlete – actors are athletes of the heart. I also do mom things in between.

What is one thing you have learned from being successful?

That success has ebbs and flows and there are peaks and valleys. And I try to not judge it. I read somewhere – I don’t know who the quote is by – but it said something like: I measure my success by the moments of joy that I create.

I really loved that. I’ve had really amazing things happen in my career – I’ve been given the key to Manila and had parades in my honor, I’ve worked with iconic actors, my students have been given their own shows… but it is all fleeting and we will always be on the chase for the next mountain to climb.

Is there a mistake you have made starting out that you wish you could change?

I think everything happens for a reason, but I wish I had learned that not everyone has your best interests at heart and that you have to learn how to advocate for yourself.

It’s not anyone else’s job to MAKE your career. No one owes you anything. I think I would have wanted to learn that it is okay to not be unlikeable at an earlier age. Even now, I still have a problem with people pleasing.

What advice would you give someone starting out?

In acting? Know the reasons why you are entering the business. It’s honestly a tough industry and you have to have a love for the art of it for it to be sustainable.

If it is advice on life, or starting a business, I love the concept of failing fast and failing often. When we aren’t afraid of falling on our face, we learn so much… as long as you remember to get up after a fall.

What professionally what are you most proud of?

I’m really proud of my students and their successes. I think the new generation inspires me and gives me hope with how inclusive they are.

I’m proud that most of my work has centered around social justice issues. I directed three years of The Vagina Monologues at the Herbst Theater in SF which benefited domestic violence shelters.

My show on Amazon is very ahead of the curve with its depictions of gender and sexuality. We have international fan letters where people are grateful that there is someone on TV that looks like them.

Looking back on your career, is there something you learned from the industry that you found surprising?

I am surprised constantly with how “normal” everyone is and how absolutely unglamorous the day-to-day life of an actor is. It is work.

Even though there are stories of “overnight successes,” most of the time the overnight successes have been going at it in smaller roles for at least 10 years before they even got their “big break.”

I am also constantly surprised with how many of us are still here in the trenches because our love of storytelling and still believe in the power of the entertainment industry to change the world.

What advice would you have for people that are having difficulty making it in the industry?

Have a life outside of acting. Have passions outside of the business. We can only portray humanity if we have a full life. Also, allow yourself to take a break. We need time to rest and recharge as well.

Do you have any tips for people trying to make it in as an actor?

Know yourself. Know how people perceive you. Understand that what they think of you is none of your business.

You can give the greatest audition and still not book the role because you look too much like the lead of the show or they need to do a family match.

What book would you recommend to help people be more successful

I’m kind of a self-help nerd. “Manifest Your Destiny” and “The Power of Intention“ by Wayne Dyer really helped me to change my thinking from a victim mentality to becoming more accountable to what I was creating in my life.

Any upcoming projects you are working on?

I’m in post-production on a short I directed and wrote called, “Ally3000,” and I have a few feature films that are coming out. “D-Railed,” with Lance Henricksen is starting to make the festival rounds.

I am working on writing and producing more content these days because I want to see more people like me in the media, and that starts with the writing.

What does your social media strategy look like; any tips?

Honestly, I’m still trying to figure that one out as well. I used to have over 28,000 Twitter followers but when I announced my role in an LGBTQ series, it dropped by 10,000… I think now it’s around 3,000 or so… I don’t understand it.

I don’t use social media as a popularity game, but I have made some really awesome connections through Twitter and IG of people that I admire and would like to collaborate with.

Any mistakes you see people routinely make with social media?

Oh gosh. Routinely? I don’t know. I feel like having an opinion gets people in trouble, but I can’t help it… I have thoughts.

I try not to find flaws with other people’s opinions. Maybe making the mistake of taking an opinion as a fact?

Where can people connect with you online?

I’m pretty easy to find and talk to (which is why I don’t understand why the YouTuber didn’t ask me if it was okay to use my work beforehand… and negotiated some kind of profit share – as you can tell, I’m still kind of salty about it. But here are my handles:

IG: @giospirit2

Twitter: @giospirit

Acting Coaching: HollywoodActorsWorkshop.com

Do have any apps, books or tips that you use to be more productive?

I like lists. I make lists. And I try to make use of Pomodoro Time when writing.

I have my coaching site integrated with Google Calendar and it sends me alerts 10 minutes before a meeting to remind me to prep.

How do you manage time?

I set alerts ALL THE TIME. Even for laundry.

What is the best advice you have received?

Feelings are fleeting and transient. They don’t indicate who you are – they are guideposts to what you want in life.

Use the information in a constructive way.

Do you have any advice for people that may feel discouraged about reaching their goals?

If you have a desire, there is a way of obtaining it. But the hardest part is removing the mental roadblocks that say you aren’t worthy.

How important is fitness to success?

Whoooooh. Still working on this one. I know if my body feels poopy, I don’t enjoy my day or anything that I’ve worked for.

Do you enjoy working out? If not, how do you get motivated?

I try to find activities that I love. I am OBSESSED with climbing. I can go every day if my hand isn’t sore. I think the key is finding something that you enjoy.

Do you have any cool projects you would like to tell us about?

Yeah, if you or someone that you know want to get into acting – I teach nationwide: hollywoodactorsworkshop.com

 

Note: Giovannie has a great blog about acting, that has some fantastic posts about topics such as handling rejection that would benefit everyone.

What is the one thing you wish everyone knew?

You can’t actually change anyone.

You can influence them, but the change has to originate with themselves. “You have to be the change that you wish to see in the world”. Total Gandhi quote.

Anything I should ask that I have not?

My super power! I am sickeningly optimistic at times.

My favorite saying is: “But the great thing is…” which helps me direct my thoughts to a more productive point of view.

Even if I get a parking ticket… the great thing is: I like clean streets, and this is helping fund the repair of potholes. I had a really weird upbringing and I think I developed seeing the world through rose-colored glasses as a coping mechanism.

It only gets me into trouble when I find myself saying, “It’s not that bad…” too often and I stay too long in a situation that really isn’t good for me. But that is the path that my personal growth is headed these days.

What is your favorite “geeky” movie?

I have SOOOO MANY. I have a warm place in my heart for The NeverEnding Story part 1. Actually, any movies that feel empowering or have the message that we can change reality or break out of societal conditioning really get to me: Matrix, The Truman Show, Terminator 2.

Also, Die Hard is a favorite Christmas movie and Aliens is a great Mother’s Day movie in my household. Hah

Those are all awesome movies, but I’m really intrigued why Aliens is a Mother’s Day movie? That feels like a good story if you do not mind sharing.

Ripely is very motherly when she protects the little girl and the Alien is the MOTHER of all MOTHERS!!!! ???

 

Thank You

 

Thank you, Giovannie for this great interview! I am looking forward to D-Railed it looks like an awesome movie, and I can’t wait to see more of your upcoming projects. – Michael

Check out Giovannie Espiritu’s interview with the Kansas City financial planner

Diane Franklin: The Excellent Advice of the Last American, French-Exchange Babe of the 80s

Today I am thrilled to share an excellent success story interview with actress Diane Franklin. Diane was the Princess in one of my favorite movies ‘Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure’ and was the French-exchange student in the hilarious classic ‘Better Off Dead’.

The post Giovannie Espiritu: Actress And Filmmaker Discusses How To Be Successful appeared first on Your Money Geek.

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Should You Use Loans to Startup Your Business?

Most money gurus would tell you debt is bad and should be avoided at all costs. Dave Ramsey for example who go as far as suggest you shouldn’t even consider investing your money until you are out of debt. However, despite the prevailing wisdom of living debt free, small business owners are embracing loans and betting big on their startup.

Today, financial blogger Mike from MikedUp.com why he and his wife decided to buck the trend and embraced hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt to grow their family dental practice. Mike explains why you shouldn’t be scared to bed big on your startup or small business. Additionaly, he offers some tips on how to make the process of getting a small business loan much easier. – Michael

We Used Business Loans To Grow Our Practice

“One hundred fifty thousand dollars on the build-out, two hundred seventy-five on the business, and another couple hundred on the goodwill…” It was like a sick and twisted math problem, circa 1st grade, just adding up all the startup business loans we had taken out. Was I stressed and burnt out, and (in an honest moment) just a little terrified.

I was.

But, at the same moment, I would also admit to feeling as professionally “alive” as I had ever felt in the past. There we were, a married couple in our early thirties and now business partners.

We had just signed the final documents to take ownership of our new dental practice and immediately begin construction on a brand new office (not by choice but out of necessity). There were five employees, a mountain of debt, an underperforming practice, and a significant fork in the road.

Our lives and the lives of our new Team (as I call them) would profoundly change depending on which arm of the fork our journey would lead to.

Success – or – failure. There was no middle ground.

Our success would mean dramatically increasing our business’ profitability by enticing hundreds of new patients, hiring more staff, building an incredible culture, and ultimately making a positive mark in our community.

Our failure, on the other hand, would be some version of the opposite.

The one variable that we couldn’t change at that point was the bet that we had made on ourselves; the risk we were taking. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in the form of many small business loans were now hanging over our heads, and one way or another – it was time to start paying up.

But we didn’t just fall into this situation haphazardly. We made a series of calculated decisions to assume these risks and to travel this path.

Why?

Well… Scared money doesn’t make money – sometimes you need to take a few steps backward to leap forward.

We Used Start-Up Business Loans To Grow Our Practice

Let’s take a look at some of the most common benefits cited by people when they take out small business loans. After that, I’ll clue you in on what we hoped to gain and what we learned in taking out a series of different loans. Then to wrap up, I’ll discuss what we wish we’d known back at the beginning.

How Small Business Loans can Benefit your Business 1- Small business loans will help you hire quality people sooner

We were recently faced with a unique (to us) situation. Our company had started taking off, but the income and revenue hadn’t entirely caught up. So there we were with ever-increasing demand and an equally increasing stress level of our then-current employees.

It was a tenuous situation at best, and if we hadn’t made a move to bring more folks on board, we could’ve lost great people or had to turn away business… Neither of which were on my list of desired outcomes. Hiring isn’t always easy, but learning how to spot a fantastic resume in seconds will save you time and grief.

We decided to take a calculated risk on the ability for our new folks to help generate revenue in a quick timeframe, but if that’s not possible – taking a small business loan to fund hiring while revenues eventually follow along can be a great option.

Calculated growth is a great thing, and sometimes you need a shot in the arm (in the form of a small cash influx) to start building positive momentum.

2- Improving your resources and infrastructure

When we took over our business, it existed in a (frankly) dilapidated old building. We had mostly older technology and equipment and old pictures hanging on the wall.

The whole scene was kind of depressing… Except for all the young, vibrant, or excited faces we had in our group. At that time, my wife (our doctor) was 30, and our staff ranged from 24-28. It was a stark contrast with the run-down medical building our business existed within.

We tried like hell to secure a long-term lease in that space because moving is soooo expensive, but luckily for us – I couldn’t get the landlord to agree to pretty much any proposal we had. In the 11th hour, we were forced to find a new space and build a brand new office.

I don’t know about the current state of your savings account, but ours didn’t have an extra $500,000 just lying around.

So there I went back to our banker selling the promise of increased revenues due to our new space, exciting equipment purchases and the efficiencies they’d allow, and ultimately requesting a new loan to make it all possible.

Take this sample size of 1 with a grain of salt, but it’s been one year since our construction and move were completed, and we’ve already increased revenues 100% year-over-year. The facelift, most assuredly, had a lot to do with that.

3- Business loans will boost your cash flow

Do you know what one of the worst business-owner feelings in the history of the world is? Thinking that you can make payroll next month but not being even 75% sure.

We had worked incredibly hard to find and keep the best quality Team, but no matter how much they loved working for the company or liked us as people – they weren’t about to work for free… And I couldn’t blame them at all.

Cash flow is king when it comes to running your business, and whether you need the cash for payroll, the electric bill, or to pay your suppliers, one way or another – you’re going to need it.

I was surprised to see the term “working capital” in our original loan documents, and even asked our banker and trusted advisors if we’d need the ‘extra’ $30,000. I didn’t want to pay the interest if we didn’t have to and I thought our savings could get us through until revenues picked up.

Our most trusted advisor cautioned me, “You can never have too much cash in your business. Worst case scenario, you pay that portion back early, but I think that in 6 months you’ll be glad you have it.”

Do you want the truth? …We probably wouldn’t have survived without it.

4- Researching and launching a new product

Not necessarily in my area of expertise as we sell a healthcare service, but if your business is product-based, those products don’t just appear out of thin air. They take time in the concept stage. They need researching, testing, and iterating (is that a word??).

The point is that fine-tuning your product takes time, and time = money, my friends.

Sure, once this product flies off the shelves, you should recoup your investment, but you need a product to sell in the first place. And if you don’t have the cash on hand to make that investment – a small business loan can be just the blessing you need.

5- Small business loans will help you stockpile your inventory

Hey – you’ve researched, tested, iterated, and sold the bejeezus out of that product… Congrats!!

But now you need to buy more, and maybe place a larger order this time around.

After you recouped your initial investment, paid your staff, landlord, marketing team, banks, …, and the electric company, I don’t have to imagine that you may be wondering where all those “profits” ended up.

Although you don’t want to make a habit out of defaulting to just calling your banker, taking out a loan when it makes sense can be the exact move you need to make.

Small business ownership is all about balance

And the balance we’re looking to strike, in these situations, is that perfect amount of debt relative to current and future income. When the numbers make sense, and your business is likely to benefit from taking on additional debt, it’s a win-win.

You benefit from the influx of additional cash to get over whatever hurdle that remains in your way. And the bank helps off of the interest you pay. Like it or not – without paying that interest, your business is likely to stagnate and could ultimately go under. But with a strategic “few steps backward,” can you then take that “giant leap forward.”

But the banks aren’t going to shake your hand and say, “Well here you are. Enjoy our cash!”

If only it were that easy…

No, friends. Now you need to put on your business’ best dress, have that hair just so, and make sure to make the best first impression, because lending these days is a little harder to come by than it was pre-Great Recession.

What banks look for in an ‘attractive’ small business loan borrower 1- Have cash saved up

I was shocked.

Strike that.

I was surprised in discussing our first business loans with many bankers, and they all told me we needed tens of thousands of dollars saved up to take out these loans.

My response:

“If I had the money, I wouldn’t be asking you for it.”

But, I learned in time that that’s not how the small business loan game works. Not only do you need the requisite 10-20% down (equity in your business akin to equity in your home mortgage), but also you need to show ample cash on hand to weather economic downtimes and to pay the overhead for a while.

So save up until you have enough money on hand to be ‘attractive’ – then save some more.

2- Have an excellent credit score

We’re talking both personal and business credit here, and while we had some leniency on our business’ score, our ones were painstakingly examined.

Just like most other loans, the banks want to be sure that their money is in the hands of someone likely to pay it back.

If you’re looking to boost your credit score, here are the five essential steps:

  • Pay consistently and on time
  • Don’t use all the credit you have available to you
  • Show a good history of responsible borrowing
  • Don’t take out lines of credit without absolutely needing them
  • Make sure your debt-to-income ratio is in line
3- Be prepared to tell them exactly how your business will benefit from this loan

Part of being an attractive borrower as a business is showing that your business is likely to make money as a result of taking these funds.

And to show the bank how you’re going to make money, you’ll likely need to produce a business plan.

This document can detail any aspect of your business including products or services, leadership, staffing, marketing, financial plans, and any other details that can show you’ve thought this business thing through.

If you can tell the bank a story that’s reliable, believable, backed with data and facts, and they agree with you, then you’re one step closer to taking their money and advancing your business.

4- Make sure you ‘need’ the small business loan in the first place

So let’s say you’ve gone through the trouble of making yourself an attractive borrower. You’ve saved up enough cash, have a soaring-high credit score, and your business plan is impeccable…

Make sure you need this cash influx in the first place. Sure, it’s always nice to have extra working capital or a sizeable rainy day fund, but if you can get there in the short term without paying interest – that’s a more desirable option.

So be sure you need this loan in the first place. Otherwise, you can save yourself a bunch of time and some interest down the road by only staying the course with what you have.

5- Take the leap and offer collateral for your small business loan

If you (like us) are in the camp of ‘those who do need the loan for growth,’ it’s time to push your chips to the center of the table and gamble on yourself.

In the 1500s, Hernan Cortes landed in Veracruz with his army to begin a massive conquest. Rather than keep the ships they came in on – just in case – he ordered his men to have them burned…

There was no retreat. No quick return home. Cortes had grand plans, and he needed a 100% commitment from his troops to make it happen.

So burn your proverbial ships (which is probably offering your assets and personal savings as collateral) and forge onward in this bet you’ve placed on yourself. Because from here on out – you’ll need a 100% commitment to achieve the success you desire.

Mike from mikedupblog.com crafted this article. This post originally appeared on The Money Mix

The post Meet The Couple Who Used Startup Loans To Grow Their Business appeared first on Your Money Geek.

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