• How To Improve Your Credit Score

    My credit score was not great when I first started learning about money, but recently I’ve benefited from multiple refinances where my excellent credit gave me huge benefits and saved me tens of thousands of dollars

    After refinancing our mortgage AND the parent plus loans I’ve been paying, I’m more convinced than ever that you shouldn’t ignore credit. When you have bad credit you can get denied for loans or have to accept bad rates that end up costing you a lot of money.

    Instead we should work to make your credit score better without going into debt. I know not everyone agrees on credit in the personal finance world – everyone gets feisty – but it’s a fact of life for us real life every day people.

    Over the years I’ve been able to raise my low credit score to one that is considered excellent. This excellent credit score has helped save me lots of money in interest rates on my loans and has put me in a much better position financially.

    Learning how to improve my credit score took some work so I’d like to share some of the tips to improve credit scores that I learned along the way.

    Why You Should Improve Your Credit Score

    The unfortunate reality is that your credit score matters. 

    Good credit gets you access to better rates, allows you to pay less on big items like homes and cars, and even determines your ability to qualify for certain jobs or rentals. 

    You don’t have to love debt or need credit card debt to get a good credit score. In fact, I hate debt. But I also live in the real world and out here your credit score is a tool that can open up doors to a better experience in life.

    Having no credit sounds like an amazing idea but in the real world it makes things much harder. You will have access to fewer companies when you apply for a mortgage because many won’t do manual underwriting. You’ll  have access to less rental options because many landlords don’t want to (or can’t) go through the hassle of evaluating your finances and manually approving you. 

    The fact of the matter is that having good credit opens up doors for you.

    Here are a few reasons why building a good credit score is important:

    • Good credit will get you better interest rates when you need credit for financing a large purchase.
    • Good credit means you will pay less overall on those big purchases you have to make on credit.
    • Buying a home requires a credit score with most lenders and the better your credit score, the better loan you will be able to get. 
    • Having bad credit can stop you from being able to buy a home at all until you improve it.
    • Your credit score determines your ability to rent an apartment and many won’t accept below 700.
    • Your credit score can affect getting certain jobs in certain industries where you have to appear trustworthy.

    Clearly having good credit is important. It affects many areas of your life and having bad credit will force you to pay more for the same things others get at a much lower overall cost.

    The good news is your credit score is something you can work to improve!

    We have excellent credit now so we got great rates and had an easy time with our refinance. I got a great rate on our mortgage and I got to move the rate on student loans from 8.5% to just over 3%. Before that? My mom got denied for a refinance because of credit. She’s been working on her credit and debt payoff but in the real world she is still penalized by companies and forced to pay 5% more interest. Or even worse on other products.

    It’s not fair. It’s really not. When you have bad credit you have to pay more when you do need to purchase something with credit. You can also be denied certain jobs, rentals, and more. Pretending like you don’t need good credit might sound cool and counter cultural until you are the one being denied opportunities to make your life better…. because of credit.

    The good thing is that credit is something that can be fixed. It’s a game. There are known things you can do to improve your credit. And if you’re smart you can benefit from it. Pretending it doesn’t exist doesn’t work for most of us so I’m more convinced than ever it’s important to understand how credit works, learn to use it responsibly, and benefit from the concept.

    What Makes Up Your Credit Score

    In order to improve your credit scores, you need to understand what makes up your credit score.

    To help you understand how factors affect your credit score, here’s a screenshot of my info in Credit Karma while I have a 823 credit score.

    Here are the things that will affect your credit score from highest to lowest impact:

    1. Payment history – Percentage of payments you’ve made on time
    2. Credit card use – How much credit you’re using compared to your total limits
    3. Derogatory marks – Collections, tax liens, bankruptcies, civil judgements on your credit report
    4. Credit age – Average age of your open accounts
    5. Total accounts – Total open and closed accounts on your report
    6. Hard inquiries – Number of times you’ve applied for credit (in the last couple years)

    These are the things that impact your score the most. Two of them are things that you do automatically when you start budgeting and paying down your debt – you pay things on time and you use less of your available credit.

    So let’s talk more about these factors and how you can use them to actually improve your credit score.

    How To Improve Your Credit Score

    While I don’t take pride in having a great credit score, it has been something I’ve worked to improve over the years and has benefited me greatly. Ultimately a high credit score wasn’t a point of pride but a practical matter that I needed to improve to help myself and my family.

    It is possible to build your credit score but there are some things you need to know about improving your credit score. Having this knowledge is the first step to improving credit and the next will be implementing it. 

    Here are some important things to know:

    • It is possible to rebuild credit responsibly over time.
    • There is no QUICK way to fix credit. Any method will take time.
    • You do not need to pay someone else to fix your credit. You can do it.

    My own credit score went from the low 600s to the high 700s and now to the 800s. This has improved my loan interest rates and helped us get a good mortgage rate which saved us tens of thousands of dollars in interest.

    The Basics Of Improving Your Credit Score

    If you want to improve your credit score, there are some basics you need to know about how to improve your credit and therefore your credit score.

    The basics of improving your credit score:

    1. Check your credit score AND your credit report
    2. Pay your bills on time
    3. Reduce the amount of debt you owe
    4. Increase your credit limit

    Those are the very basics of building your credit over time.

    Of course, there are lots of little things to do with each item and in certain situations so we will walk through them all in the coming sections and action steps. You can do this!!

    For action steps you will want to do the following items:

    • Check your credit score for free with multiple sources.
    • Check your credit report and make sure it is accurate.
    • Pay your bills on time every month and never be late.
    • Keep your balances low on credit cards and revolving credit.
    • Do not close old accounts you don’t use.
    • Apply for and open new credit only as needed.
    • Pay off debt as you can rather than moving it from account to account.
    • Make responsible purchases on credit that you know you can pay off.
    • Don’t obsess about your score, just let it improve over time.

    These are the basics for improving your credit score. I’ll break each one down further below.

    Check your credit score for free.

    Improving your credit starts with knowing your credit score and knowing where you stand with credit. Once you know what you are working with you will know how much it can improve by implementing the basic ideas for improving a credit score.

    You can check your credit score for free from a number of sources these days. You should never have to pay to get your credit score.

    Check your credit score from 3 different sources.

    I recommend checking your credit score in at least 3 locations so you can get an average and see what different scores are saying about your credit worthiness. Different sources will report a different FICO or Vantange score so checking multiple sources gives you a clear idea of what different places are seeing.

    Here are a few places where you can check your credit score for free

    • Experian app
    • Credit Karma
    • Creditwise – offered within Capital One accounts

    Checking your score is the first step because you have to know where you are starting. It may be hard to see and face the facts if your score is very low but finding out where you start is the only way to improve.

    Check your credit report and make sure it is accurate.

    When you are trying to improve your credit you have to not only find out your credit score but also check your credit report to see what the credit bureaus are seeing.

    Luckily, once a year you can pull your credit report FOR FREE thanks to the federal laws in the United States. You can get a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each credit reporting company from annualcreditreport.com.

    There are multiple reasons to check your credit report:

    • Checking your credit report gives you an idea where you can start improving credit.
    • Reviewing credit reports helps you catch signs of identity theft early.
    • It allows you to ensure that the information on all of your credit reports is correct and up to date.

    Here’s how you complete this step:

    Step 1: Check your credit report.

    There is ONE website in the US where you can pull your credit reports for free thanks to this law: annualcreditreport.com

    You don’t need to pay for your report from any bureau or any other website. This is the only website you need! It is the only official site explicitly directed by Federal law to provide them.

    Sign up and enter your information on the website to get your three credit reports.

    Next, review the information. If there is any incorrect information, make a note of it for the next step.

    Compare the three credit reports against each other. Do they match? Where are the discrepancies between the different bureaus? Mark these for your information for future steps.

    Step 2: Dispute and remove any incorrect information.

    Sometimes there may be mistakes on your credit report. That’s why it is important to pull and double check your credit report every year.

    Once a year you can should pull your credit report for free and make sure nothing has changed or been reported incorrectly. Staying on top of your credit makes sure when you do build good credit it will be there for you when you need it.

    Pay your bills on time every month and never be late.

    On time payments is a huge factor in your FICO score and all other credit scores. Paying your bills on time is actually one of the biggest factors in determining your credit score. FICO says it is 35% of their calculation for your score.

    Unfortunately missed payments or late payments will negatively affect your credit score. Paying your current bills on time should be the first active step you take toward improving your credit score.

    If you’re having trouble with late or missed payments, here are a few things to try to pay your bills on time:

    • Make a list of every bill you have to pay. You should have an accurate and up to date list of all bills you owe each and every month. If you have a lot of bills to pay it’s easy to let one fall through the cracks if it’s not listed. 
    • Check your credit report to make sure you’ve included every bill due on your list. Your credit report lists all lenders you owe money to so you can add any debts you’ve either missed or forgotten entirely.
    • Review your bank accounts and credit card statements for recurring bills you pay each month. This will include things like subscriptions, memberships, cell phone bills, etc.
    • Add the due dates to your list of bills to pay. You have to know when bills are due in order to pay them on time or early. 
    • Set up automatic payments for bills. It’s easy to forget a due date when your life gets busy so make sure your bills are paid automatically when it’s an option.
    • Set up payment reminders. You likely can’t pay every bill automatically so you will never to make sure you have a system for making manual payments on time. You can do this on some banks or just use your calendar. Put all your bill due dates into your calendar and set up automated reminders so you can pay the bill on time or double check autopay to make sure it was paid.

    This might seem like a lot of work but always paying your bills on time will help you maintain good relationships with companies and improve your credit score.

    Getting current on your bills and staying current without missing payments or paying lae will help you improve your credit score. The longer you pay your bills in a timely way the higher your credit score will increase and the less your past payment mistakes will count against you.

    If you are truly struggling just to make ends meet or feel like you are drowning in debt, then reach out to a legitimate credit counselor or financial coach. Don’t go to a disreputable credit repair place with big promises but look for help to get out of the hole you’re in right now. This solution won’t hurt your score and will give you a plan to manage your credit by paying on time and improving slowly over time.

    Keep your balances low on credit cards and revolving credit.

    How much credit you are currently using will affect your credit score. If you are only using a small percentage of the credit you could be using then your score will be higher.

    Having a good credit score doesn’t mean you need overwhelming amounts of debt. In fact, having large debt balances usually hurts your credit score because of the credit utilization factor.

    Your credit utilization is the balance of your debt compared to the available credit you have access to. This contributes 30% to FICO score’s calculation which means it is something you need to work on asap. 

    The goal here is to pay off debt while still keeping your credit limits high. This lowers the amount of credit you are using compared to the amount you could actually use. 

    The first step of course is paying off debt so we will focus on that step here. It is one of the easiest areas to work on but it does require discipline, focus, and organization.

    Do not close old accounts you don’t use.

    While this is debated by some in the personal finance world, I found that not closing accounts helped my credit score.

    When I finished paying off a debt or simply moved on to a new credit card for rewards, I never closed the old account unless it had an annual fee.

    If a credit card did have an annual fee, I did close the account but asked the company to roll the credit limit to another card without a fee or to another existing card. This trick helps raise your credit limit drastically!

    Having old accounts still open for use will help increase your credit score since age of accounts is a big factor in your score. You don’t have to use your older credit lines often but just enough to keep them open.

    Apply for and open new credit only as needed.

    Having multiple accounts open for long periods of time can help your credit score but that doesn’t mean more is better.

    You don’t need to open 25 different accounts to get a good credit score. In fact I have less than 10 and have an excellent credit score.

    Be selective in the credit lines that you open. Don’t max yourself out with too many new open lines of credit. It will drop your credit score temporarily and it could potentially put you in a precarious situation.

    If you are in a credit building stage, then you should work on opening new cards strategically over time but never all at once. Wait 6 months or more between opening new credit lines.

    Pay off debt as you can.

    I don’t carry debt balances and pay off all my debt but still keep my credit score high so it is available for me to use if I need it.

    Paying off debt rather than moving it around with transfer balances is a smart move for your overall financial situation. It also helps your credit score because the lower your debt utilization the better your score will be.

    Paying off debt can help improve your score if you are reducing the amount you owe and freeing up space you can use. Debt utilization amounts are a part of the credit score as we discussed before. Your score will rise when you have lower amounts of debt because you are utilizing less of the credit available to you.

    Here are some practical ways to pay off debt:

    • List out all of your debts and make a plan to pay them down using either the debt snowball (lowest balance to highest) or debt avalanche (highest interest rate to lowest).
    • Pay off debt instead of moving it around. Paying off your debt will lower your overall utilization amount which will increase your score.
    • Use extra money in your budget and from side hustles to pay down your debt faster. 
    • Keep balances low on credit cards and any other revolving credit you have open. High balances on credit cards will negatively affect your score.
    • Do not close your unused credit cards when they are paid off unless there is a yearly fee for keeping them open. If you do close a credit card, ask the company to roll that credit limit to another card you have open with them.

    Always make sure you make responsible purchases on credit that you know you can pay off.

    Don’t obsess about your score, just let it improve over time.

    It might be tempting to pay someone to help improve your credit score quickly, but be cautious of these services. Many are not helpful but take your money for something you can do yourself.

    You can improve your credit score over time by following common sense credit guidelines and getting on a budget.

    The less you obsess about your credit score the better off you will be.  Ultimately a credit score isn’t the most important thing in your financial life and there are ways to operate around a bad credit score or no credit score at all.

    If you are planning to use credit less and don’t need it for a future mortgage or car loan or new job then your credit score will be less important.

    Remember that even if you are planning to use credit in the future, you can work with what you already have, pay things on time, use credit responsibly, and build your credit score from there.

  • Complete Beginner’s Guide to Making Money with Affiliate Marketing

    Whether you are a blogger or YouTuber or building an online business, you likely want to try making money through affiliate marketing. It is one of the best and fastest ways to make money online.

    Even as a small YouTuber I was able to earn over $500 a month so affiliate marketing is a great way to start earning money as a beginner. 

    My Favorite Affiliate Marketing Platforms 

    If you are just here to get some places to sign up to make money, here are my favorite platforms where you can find affiliate programs to apply for and earn money with affiliate marketing.

    How to Make Money with Affiliate Marketing

    If you want to start making money right now with affiliate marketing – even as a beginner – then you are in the right place.

    You have likely heard about affiliate marketing before. Maybe you heard of it in a sleazy way like influencers who take advantage of it or in an inspiring way like how Michelle from Making Sense of Cents earns  $50,000 per month from affiliate marketing. Or maybe you have no idea what affiliate marketing is and you just landed here because you know want to make money online.

    I wrote this complete guide to making money with affiliate marketing because it’s something I love doing and many of my fellow YouTubers continually asked for advice in masterminds. They wanted to know how I earned more in affiliate income than advertising most months during my income reports. Like me, they were inspired by people like Michelle who were making tens of thousands of dollars every month while only working 10 hours a week and traveling the world. They wanted to know how I got started and how I make money with affiliate marketing so this post is my answer.

    Making money with affiliate marketing is not hard and it doesn’t have to feel bad. You are providing a service of connecting people with services or products they need and your commission on a sale compensates you for that work – at no cost to the customer! 

    If you want to better understand what affiliate marketing is and how to make money from it then this post will be for you. I wrote this guide to share everything you need to know to get started as a beginner, share my best tips on making money, and give you actionable steps so you can get started earning as well. 

    What is affiliate marketing?

    Affiliate marketing is where you promote products to your audience and then earn a commission when someone makes a purchase through your unique affiliate link. 

    You earn money by selling other people’s products.

    The commissions for those sales can range from 4% to 70% of the product sales price.

    As you can see, you can earn major amounts of money when you are earning 50% or more of a product price without having to create the product.

    Affiliate marketing works in the same way as many old school referral programs and allows people to earn money through their blog or social media platforms by talking about things they love. It actually works well for all parties involved because you are only paid when you make a sale, it does not increase consumer cost, and the company providing the product does not have to pay upfront in case you don’t provide sales. 

    There are affiliate programs for all types of products and in every industry. There are affiliate programs where you can earn money promoting clothing, makeup, crafts, credit cards, bank accounts, ebooks, online courses and more. Regardless of what you plan to talk about online there will be an affiliate marketing program that will fit into your niche.

    Affiliate programs will pay commissions in three different ways:

    1. Pay per sale – You will earn a commission only when someone makes a purchase through your affiliate link.
    2. Pay per lead – You will earn a commission if someone signs up for a free trial or creates a free account or somehow otherwise gives a company their email address as a lead.
    3. Pay per click – This style of program is where you are paid money whenever someone clicks through one of your links.  

    There are many types of affiliate marketing programs but the most common one is pay per sale. That is what I will be referring to and giving tips to since it is what I use the most. 

    Is affiliate marketing scammy?

    Affiliate marketing had a really bad rep for a while because some people abused the system in bad faith but generally affiliate marketing is now a much more popular and regulated industry. It is a great way to earn money and to help your audience connect with the products they need that you do not provide. 

    By recommending products you actually love and trust you are adding value for your audience.You are connecting them to something they need but didn’t know about until you made the introduction. 

    Personally I only ever recommend products I love or have used myself and think will add value to my audience. My motto is “if I wouldn’t recommend it to my mom, I won’t recommend it to you.” This lets an audience know that they aren’t stumbling through products by chance but instead are able to trust your recommendation.

    If you are wondering whether you not you should promote an affiliate product, a great rule of thumb is to consider whether you would share it with your friends or family or not.

    Affiliate marketing is amazing because you get paid for telling people why you love something!

    Is affiliate marketing legal? 

    Affiliate marketing is a legal and common online practice where content creators and major companies earn revenue. 

    There are guidelines from the FTC about what you can and can’t do with affiliate links. You will need to include disclaimers on your site and disclose that your content has affiliate links included in the content. 

    The guidelines from the FTC mean you should disclose you are making a commision for the links on your site. It must be:

    • Clear and conspicuous where it can be seen
    • Easy to notice by anyone using your site
    • Easy to understand and not confusing legal jargon
    • Free of distraction

    As long as you are being upfront and sharing information about your affiliate links then you have nothing to worry about when doing affiliate marketing.

    How is affiliate marketing different from referral programs? 

    People are very used to “referral links” where someone recommends a product or service they use via a link inside their account. In return for the referral you may get a free month or other benefit from the referral. It’s a common way apps grow their user base.

    An example of a referral program I promote is Robinhood. They do not have an affiliate program but when I refer people to Robinhood I get a free stock and the new person signing up get a free stock.

    Affiliate marketing programs are different because they are special partnerships that not everyone has access to. Many have special requirements like a certain number of followers or website traffic and some even require a certain number of signups per month.

    Affiliate marketing programs most often give affiliates cash or a similar form of compensation for their work to create sales through driving traffic through their links. An example of affiliate programs are when someone signs up for a program I’ve shared and I receive $50 in return. 

    What are the benefits of affiliate marketing? 

    There are so many benefits to using affiliate marketing as a way to monetize your online business / YouTube channel / blog. It’s a great source of income for content creators like bloggers and YouTubers (I know from experience with both).

    A few of the benefits of affiliate marketing:

    • Easy to get started. It’s the easiest way to get started making money online. You find affiliate programs you want to join either directly or through affiliate marketing program marketplaces (many listed below). 
    • Passive income. Once you’ve created your content containing affiliate links you are done with the upfront work. You can create one piece of content like a blog post that continues to earn you money every month because it gets good amounts of traffic and has affiliate links. 
    • Great for newbies. Affiliate marketing is amazing because it is one of the best ways to earn money before you have a huge audience. If you have a very niche audience or just a small audience because you are new then you can still earn a decent amount of money with affiliate marketing. 

    Those are a few of the biggest benefits of affiliate marketing. It is definitely one of the best ways to monetize as a beginner and many people earn hundreds or even thousands of dollars withing a short time frame. 

    Why is affiliate marketing a great way to monetize for beginners?

    I always recommend beginners start monetizing with affiliate marketing because it’s the best way to earn money with the best risk and reward ratio.

    I say this because most new YouTubers or Bloggers are not getting much traffic so adding ads to their content results in very low rewards. It’s easy to use but ads do not earn much.

    Creating products on the other hand is much harder, requires a lot of upfront work, and may flop because as a beginner you don’t have an audience.

    Enter affiliate marketing, where you don’t have to create a product yet can earn a large commission if you can sell the product.

    Affiliate marketing is also great because as a beginner it lets you try out different things. You can try multiple different affiliate programs and try promoting different products. Maybe you promote something and no one is interested, but that’s ok because it’s not your product and you can just move on to the next one.

    Once you find something that works you can replicate your success and continue to grow your income with affiliate marketing. The great thing is that all the things you’ve done in the past that worked can be passive income as you continue to grow! 

    How to Get Started with Affiliate Marketing

    Getting started with affiliate marketing is pretty easy. 

    If you are a YouTuber, add affiliate links to the description box and pinned comments on your most popular videos. 

    If you are a blogger, add affiliate links to your blog posts especially the ones bringing in the most of your traffic.

    Many people start their affiliate marketing with Amazon Associates program that allows you to link to Amazon products and earn a small commission from anything that customer purchases on Amazon. 

    The affiliate program at Amazon has low commissions and only a 24 hours cookie length but it can be a great way to get started and earn money ongoing. I use the Amazon affiliate program sparingly but still earn a couple hundred dollars most months.

    Finding Affiliate Marketing Programs 

    In addition to Amazon you can find many different affiliate programs within your niche. Niche specific affiliate programs are the ones where you will ultimately have the most success and earn the most money. There are so many affiliate programs out there and there are single products and services in each program. You can find products from fashion, beauty, travel, home goods, personal finance and more. 

    To find these programs you will want to use Google to search for things like “pet products affiliate marketing programs” or “fitness affiliate marketing programs” to find affiliate programs in your niche.

    When you search for affiliate programs you will come across both affiliate programs and affiliate networks when you are trying to find programs to use.

    Affiliate programs are independent affiliate marketing programs run by the company that you will be promoting.

    Affiliate networks are sites that give you access to many different affiliate programs in one portal.One of the most popular affiliate networks are ShareASale and Awin where you can join and have access to thousands of affiliate programs in one place. These networks make it easy to try multiple programs and stay organized. 

    You should make sure that you are only joining affiliate programs that fit your audience and their needs instead of chasing every single shiny object and high paying affiliate program.

    My personal favorite affiliate programs have been ones I found within the affiliate network ShareASale but that is just worked for me and there are many others out there.

    Best Affiliate Marketing Programs and Networks for Bloggers

    If you are here and want to know where to earn money with affiliate marketing then you probably want to know what the best affiliate marketing programs are to join. I’ll be going over my favorite affiliate networks which give you access to many programs inside them.

    Affiliate Networks

    I have incorporated affiliate networks into my affiliate marketing strategy and it’s been one of the best strategies because it has allowed me to find more programs than I could have found on my own.

    These large affiliate networks connect you with many affiliate companies and products that will earn you money. You can also use these affiliate networks to search for popular products to promote. 

    ShareASale

    ShareASale – ShareASale is an affiliate network which means it is a platform where you can sign up for multiple affiliate programs within it. There are a couple great programs within ShareASale but for this specific niche of budgeting planners the best one is Erin Condren.

    The Erin Condren affiliate marketing program gives you 10% of each sale you refer to them which is often quite high since their average sale is $73.71 and your viewers are likely to be planning to buy there anyway.

    Things you can recommend from Erin Condren are planners, stickers, and other related accessories. It’s a great program and I routinely earn money from it even though I don’t use Erin Condren products! If you do you should get paid for your efforts instead of only getting free products through referrals. 

    I’ve also created a video about how to create affiliate links in ShareASale to make it super easy for beginners:

    To promote Erin Condren you should go start an account with ShareASale and search for Erin Condren under merchants. 

    Awin

    Awin – This is another affiliate network where you can sign up for multiple programs in one place. There are many good programs here and Awin consistently earns me hundreds of dollars monthly, but mainly from one program: Etsy.

    That’s right, Etsy has an affiliate marketing program! They offer their affiliates 4% of anything someone purchases through an affiliate link. While 4% isn’t much, it can really add up if people are buying budget sets monthly and more.

    I highly recommend you use the Etsy affiliate program to link to your favorite budget sticker shops on Etsy. You get a small 4% kickback but it doesn’t cost the shop or the customer anything extra. It comes from Etsy’s fees and is a great way for you to earn money by promoting small businesses on Etsy.

    To promote Etsy sticker shops you should go start an account with Awin and search for the Etsy affiliate program. 

    FlexOffers

    FlexOffers is an affiliate network that has many high paying affiliate programs so it’s a great option if you have a channel about budgeting or any financial topic and want to get into some higher paying affiliates or promoting credit cards.

    Within FlexOffers there are a number of financial programs on multiple topics. They have so many programs for any niche and have been specifically really great for me in the personal finance niche with programs on money management, budgeting, credit repair, mortgage loans, and more.

    Clearly FlexOffers is the place to be if you are running a channel about personal finances and want to find affiliate programs to promote!

    To promote these financial products you should go start an account at FlexOffers and search for any of the programs in the

    Affiliate Marketing Tips For YouTubers

    If you are a YouTuber and want to start use affiliate marketing to earn money then here are some of my favorite tips:

    • Mention your links in the video and direct your audience to your description box.
    • Include an affiliate disclaimer link in your description box that is clear you will make a commission.
    • Link to specific products you use instead of the general page. The less steps between a buyer and the purchase the better. Specific links convert better than generic ones.
    • Use products in the programs that you are promoting as an affiliate. If you have a choice to use products in the program or not, use the ones you can promote as an affiliate. People always want to know where you got things.
    • Leave a link to what you used in the video in a pinned comment.
    • Respond to any questions where people ask where you got something and give them the affiliate link. (This is just polite practice as well that builds trust with your audience.)

    Those are just a few of my best tips for how I’ve managed to share products I love like my favorite budget stickers shops and cash envelope makers while also earning income for doing it!

    Affiliate Marketing Tips For Instagram

    If you are running an Instagram account and want to start earning money from your account, affiliate marketing is a great option. Here are some of my favorite tips:

    • Use your affiliate links in your bio or within a linktree or similar platform to share multiple.
    • Use your stories to ask yes/no questions about whether someone is interested in something and then respond to the yes answers with useful info and your link.
    • Work to get to the 10k mark so you can use the “swipe up” in stories where you can include affiliate links.
    • Use / show / review items and tell the viewer where the link is to also get the item (bio, swipe up, etc.)

    Those are just a few Instagram specific affiliate marketing tips!

    Affiliate Marketing Tips For Bloggers

    Blogging is the traditional king of affiliate marketing. Some bloggers have made millions of dollars in affiliate marketing income. Michelle who created Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing has earned over $100,000 a month from her blog. That’s crazy amounts of money and she is not the only blogger who has done it.

    Blogging is a great way to earn money with affiliate marketing. Here are a few of the ways you can earn money through affiliate marketing through a blog:

    • Use affiliate links in your blog posts. This is the easiest way to do this as a blogger.
    • Use the Pretty Links plug-in if you have a WordPress blog to make the affiliate links easier to manage. It creates custom, pretty links and tracks your clicks which is useful.
    • Write how to posts that show readers how to do something and link to the product or service they need to make it happen. How to and tutorial posts are very high converting types of affiliate posts.
    • Use attention grabbing clickbait style headlines that people will click on because you need to get people to your posts to get them to your links.
    • Write review posts where people are searching for the product you are trying to sell and are at the stage right before buying – right before clicking your affiliate link. You can write reviews about all sorts of items but just make sure you are doing an honest review with good and bad parts about the product.
    • Create a round up post of multiple affiliate products where your readers are getting value by getting the best of a certain category or a list of products to buy for a certain trip, etc.

    Affiliate Marketing Tips

    No matter which platform you are using there are some general ideas you should stick with when promoting products with affiliate marketing.

    Here are some general affiliate marketing tips:

    • Explain the benefits of why someone would want to purchase the product you are promoting.
    • Share personal experiences about using the product or service. This is the best way to do affiliate marketing – sharing your experience about what you already use and love. Personal experience build trust and increase conversions.
    • Show proof of success or that the product actually worked or improved your life. General benefits won’t sell people on buying a product but seeing actual proof helps.
    • Be honest about your reviews when talking about products you are promoting. Never lie and always share both the good and bad of a product.
    • Don’t over do it or be too salesy. You don’t want to be the pushy annoying person that only promotes links to earn money. It’s not effective and it also just comes off as annoying and will turn people off you in general.
    • Include a call to action so people know what to do in order to take the next step and actually purchase the product. Call to actions are things like “grab your copy today” or “click here to sign up”.
    • If you are promoting a high price product, you can also offer an incentive and give something extra to anyone that uses your link.
    • Always disclose that you use affiliate links no matter which platform you are using. Stay up to date and in compliance with the FTC guidelines.

    Those are a few tips to get you started!

    More Affiliate Marketing Questions

    I get a lot of other questions about affiliate marketing so I’ve shared some of them and the answers below!

    Do I need a blog for affiliate marketing?

    Nope! You don’t need a blog to do affiliate marketing. You don’t need any certain platform to get started with affiliate marketing. 

    What you need is a platform where you excel and plan to invest in building an audience. Your audience is what will earn you affiliate marketing income so cultivating an audience on any platform can work for affiliate marketing. However, you should be aware that certain platforms do better than others when you are trying to earn affiliate income.

    While you don’t absolutely need a blog for affiliate marketing it will make it easier because having a blog is one of the easiest and most profitable ways to make money from affiliate marketing. Even if you don’t fully utilized your blog and plan

    How do you get paid? How much can you make?

    Before you get started you probably are wondering how much you can make and what types of ways you can get paid.

    Flat rate is one of the ways you can get paid. As an example, website hosts like Bluehost will pay a flat rate of $65 per sale when someone signs up with your link.

    Percentage of sale price is another way you can get paid. This is the most common and commission rates vary widely. If you are promoting a product that costs $100 and you will earn a 10% commission with that affiliate marketing program then you would earn $10 per sale.

    Do you need a lot of followers or traffic?

    Nope! That’s the best part of affiliate marketing! You don’t need a lot of traffic or a huge following to be successful!

    In fact, some people with huge followings can hardly sell anything with affiliate marketing because their audience doesn’t trust them or isn’t connected. Often with a smaller audience you are more connected with your followers and they are more connected to you which means they are also willing to support you by trusting your opinion on products and using your affiliate links.

    I made my first affiliate sales with less than 500 followers and not that many views. It was because I was sharing products I actually loved and was happy to be using. I never promote things I don’t like or don’t feel comfortable with because being real is what works with affiliate marketing.

    As long as you are providing value with your recommendations then you will be able to earn money with affiliate marketing with a small following and feel good about it.

    Why share which affiliate programs I use?

    The affiliate marketing programs I shared here are the top two programs I’ve used to monetize my budget planner channel and they’ve worked very well for me. I’ve made thousands of dollars over my two years of being on YouTube from these two programs in those affiliate networks.

    Yes, giving them away does mean I have more competition for the links but I’ve also found that helping more people eventually benefits me as well. I will earn a small amount if you sign up for those affiliate networks as well which will help make up for some revenue I’ve lost. Plus, I like having good deeds on my side.

    I also, really, really like helping people figure out ways to earn income online and improve their lives through doing things like affiliate marketing or making digital products. I’ve got a passion for helping other people make money! 

    How can I be successful with affiliate marketing?

    While I have covered everything you need to know as a beginner starting affiliate marketing, to be successful you will need two things:

    1. Try and test things to find what works.
    2. Learn from people who have been successful.

    If you want a deep dive into how affiliate marketing works for both bloggers and YouTubers too you can take a more in depth class: Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing I took Michelle’s course when I wanted to grow my affiliate income on YouTube and it’s helped me grow that income source a lot even though I already understood the basics of affiliate marketing.

    If you’ve signed up for the affiliate networks above and still feel lost on how to seamlessly use affiliate marketing you might want to try the course. It’s great for beginners to walk you through how to use and grow your affiliate marketing income. I will say that it is geared toward bloggers but the basics are the same for bloggers and youtubers.

    (If you do decide to buy Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing through my link send me a copy of your receipt and I will send you all of my online income related printables!)

    Congrats on learning about and using affiliate marketing to grow the income!

  • Living With Roommates To Save Money & House Hack

    When you are saving money to pay off debt or afford a big expense like your first home, you likely will be looking at a number of options to save money. One area where you can save a lot of money is by living with roommates.

    Why live with roommates?

    Living with roommates is actually a great way to get social interaction and save money!

    When you live with roommates you are able to save money because you are splitting your rent costs. Rent or mortgage costs are generally the largest line item in most people’s budget. Getting a roommate to cut down on that expense makes a lot of sense when you are trying to save money.

    Another benefit of living with roommates is the social interaction and community. This can be a huge positive when you have the right roommates and love the people you live with. They can greatly add value to your life, but you have to be careful because it can also go the other way.

    Those are the top two benefits I personally found when living with roommates but there are plenty of others!

    Living With Roommates

    I’ve had plenty of roommates over the years during college and after. I’ve lived with friends,  family and strangers.

    In fact, I’ve never lived alone until I briefly lived alone for 6 months in my late twenties. And even after that brief stint living alone I realized I still wanted to live with other people!

    The reality is that living with roommates is harder than living alone because you have to share space. Communication is important and resentments can come up when there are disagreements about how the space should be used. Conflicts can arise over things like chores, cleaning, and sharing food.

    Ultimately the reality of living with roommates is that it takes a lot more work on interpersonal relationships but provides benefits that greatly outweigh the level of work you must put in for most cases.

    Why I Lived With Roommates 

    So why did I still live with roommates when I know it involved a lot of extra work? Why was I willing to deal with the tradeoffs?

    I wanted to save money on rent.

    That’s it! The number one reason to live with roommates was the reason I did it. Living with roommates was the right choice for me because it was the cheapest living option. Regardless of what city I’ve lived in, or my spot in life, living with roommates has always been the cheapest living arrangement.

    Living with roommates might not always be ideal or what you expect, but I know it’s what is best option to save money!

    House Hacking With Roommates

    A popular solution to not only saving money but eliminating your mortgage is house hacking.

    House Hacking is a phrase coined by BiggerPockets podcast host Brandon Turner and it just refers to the strategy of renting out portions of your primary residence to generate rental income that is used to offset the cost of your mortgage and other expenses associated with owning a home.

    Basically, you get roommates to live with you in the house that you own and your roommates pay your mortgage! You save money, build equity, and can generate positive income in the right locations.

    House hacking is often a way to get into a more expensive home or home ownership in an expensive location where you can’t afford the home on your own. It’s also a great way to squeeze all the value possible out of owning a home so you benefit financially.

    Living with roommates in order to house hack is possibly the very best way to utilize living with other people because you achieve accelerated financial benefits from the arrangement.

    Here are some of the benefits of living with roommates in order to house hack:

    • Lowering your monthly housing cost through generating rental income
    • Renting out portions of your property means you still get to use it
    • Lowering your taxable income base by acquiring extra tax write offs (mortgage interest deduction)
    • Having the possibility of removing your mortgage payment, insurance, and maintenance expenses completely through the rental income
    • Learning how to be a landlord without as much upfront risk
    • Transitioning into the world of real estate investing again without the huge unfront risk

    There are clearly a lot of positive benefits of living with roommates and this is not even including all of them!

    Tips For Living With Roommates

    If you are single it’s a lot easier to live with roommates because you can simply move into a house with a lot of people or rent a room out from someone.

    If you are married this is still possible. It’s also an option for you to rent or buy your own place and then bring in roommates. This will give you more control as you will be in the position of power to set rules and evict the person if things go wrong.

    It always helps to have a written agreement or lease with people you are living with even if it’s just a temporary situation or you are the person moving in. This covers both parties in case something goes wrong and there are disputes to settle later. It might be awkward at first to bring up the fact that you want a written agreement to cover your roommate situation, but it’s a very smart idea in the long run!

    Additionally there are many things you can do to be a good roommate and ensure that nothing goes wrong. Be a good roommate by:

    • respecting your roommates space and privacy
    • doing the dishes and other household chores when needed
    • not being nosy about the roommates life
    • setting clear boundaries for each other and respecting them
    • picking up after yourself, especially in common areas
    • respecting the other person’s right to reserve and use common areas
    • being a happy and positive person in interactions with roommates

    Do those things and you won’t have any problems at all living with roommates. In fact, it might be the best thing you ever did!

    Help With Living With Roommates

    If you want to be extra prepared for living with roommates, or don’t know how to handle a situation that has come up, try reading books and blog posts about how to deal with roommates.

    There are several inexpensive ebooks that you can get to help you navigate the world of living with roommates. Try these to start:

    These books are a great way to learn about roommate living and learn how to solve or prevent common problems that arise among people living together. You can spend $10 on all these ebooks and save yourself from unnecessary strife.

    Good luck with your roommate living. I know it’s for me and I hope you can find a way to make it work for you too!

  • 6 Most Profitable Digital Products To Sell Online

    I love selling digital products and I’m glad I finally started selling digital products in 2019 after years of dragging my feet. It has been an incredible and profitable income source in my online business!

    Selling Digital Products In 2020

    Selling digital products is a highly profitable way to earn money online while also helping your customers solve a problem and improve their lives. It’s truly a win for everyone.

    Selling digital products is actually my favorite way to make money online (here are the ways I make money online). I sell digital products that make me hundreds of dollars every month and sometimes even thousands in passive income. I love making products once that I can then sell thousands of times.  

    Whether you are a blogger, YouTuber, or online business owner, selling digital products is a great way to earn money online in 2020 and beyond.

    Even if it is not your main revenue it can become a great side income that helps you earn money to pay for items you need.

    Why Should I Sell Digital Products?

    Maybe you are wondering if you should even sell digital products or why digital products are such a great way to earn money online. 

    There are a ton of reasons why you might want to start selling digital products. Here are a few:

    • Passive income – create products once and sell an infinite number
    • No physical inventory to worry about – everything is done online
    • Low start up costs – you can create digital products with free programs
    • Easy to create products – time to create digital products can be low
    • Easy to sell – plenty of avenues to sell your products 
    • Easy to create products for multiple niches & interests

    These are very compelling reasons for why every person wanting to create an income online should be making and selling digital products. It is a fantastic opportunity to create passive income for yourself while also creating useful products for others. 

    How to Sell Digital Products Online

    There are many different ways to sell digital products online and each have their pros and cons. 

    You can sell on sites like Etsy where you don’t own your platform but can reach a huge amount of customers quickly. 

    You can sell on your own website as well which takes more work to setup but you keep more of the money and have more control over your products. 

    First, you will need your own website or at least a domain for selling on your own website. See how to start a website or blog here. 

    Next you will want an e-commerce platform that will allow you to both take payments and deliver your digital products to your customers. There are many different e-commerce platforms that make this possible so let’s look at the best ones for selling digital products specifically.

    Etsy – I love selling on Etsy because you don’t have to find people to buy your digital products – they are already on the platform and Etsy is bringing them to you! It’s easy for beginners to start and Etsy shop and you can get 40 free listings through this link.

    Podia –  Podia is a more robust platform that will allow you to not only sell digital downloads but also offer memberships and online courses. If you have plans to grow a full online business it’s the ideal platform to use to keep everything in one place. Get a 14 day free trial of Podia here

    SendOwl – This platform is specifically designed for selling digital products. You upload the digital products and start selling immediately. This platform is just $9 per month with no additional fees taken our from sales you make. Get a free trial of SendOwl here.   

    Woocommerce – WooCommerce integrates easily with existing WordPress websites to sell digital downloads. WooCommerce is not specifically for digital downloads but they have made the process super simple for sellers and do not take additional fees from sales. I currently use WooCommerce to sell my digital downloads on my website. Get started with WooCommerce.

    How To Determine Profitable Digital Products

    There are tons of digital products you can sell online but if you are looking for maximum profitability from your efforts then you need to think about your end customer.

    If you are aiming for a market of people who don’t have much money then you can’t price your items that high. If you are looking to sell to a group of people that won’t get anything besides personal satisfaction from your product that drops the level of profit for you as well. The customer you are targeting will determine how profitable your item will be.

    You want to look for markets where your future customer is going to gain high rewards from your products therefore they will be willing to spend more which increases your profit.

    The most profitable items help someone earn money or achieve a goal especially if it financially benefits them more. An example of this is selling editable marketing materials to real estate agents. These products are profitable because you can charge more for them because the customer is willing to spend more to save time in creating these materials and will make money in their business from them.

    Next let’s look at some of the most profitable product ideas and examples of each.  

    6 Most Profitable Digital Products To Sell Online

    If you are planning to add digital product sales to your online income streams, then you likely want to make sure you choose the most profitable digital products to sell so your time is used wisely. Below are my top picks for the best digital products to sell in 2020 and beyond. 

    1. Ebook templates
    2. Marketing templates
    3. Swipe files
    4. Spreadsheets templates
    5. Online courses
    6. Elements for creators 

    These are incredibly profitable areas of digital products because they are things that help other people make money. Generally people with money or making money are the ones who are willing to spend more. 

    There are dozens if not hundreds of other digital product ideas for things you could sell online, in fact I’ve shared more than 60 digital product ideas you can sell online!

    Regardless of which digital product you decide to sell, your profits for creating a digital product will always be higher than a traditional product because you are creating a product once you can sell again and again.

    Growing A Digital Product Business On Etsy

    Etsy has downsides but it’s also an amazing place to build a business and earn an income.

    If you want to grow a business selling digital downloads on Etsy I recommend my friend Sharon’s Etsy Entrepreneur course where she walks you through the process of setting up an Etsy shop and growing it to make $1,000 a month or more. She grew her Etsy store of digital downloads to more than $1,000 a month and has inspired many people to do the same.

    Remember that your business growth will depend on being consistent and growing over time adding valuable products. For most of us we begin with one product and grow over time building on what works.

    Over time you will learn tips and tricks to grow your digital products shop and find that success can be far beyond you expected when you focus on profitable digital products.

  • 63 Digital Product Ideas To Sell To Make Passive Income

    Selling digital products on Etsy is a great way to make passive income! You may have heard this before but what exactly can you sell? What are digital products?

    Today I’m talking about A LOT of digital product ideas you can create and sell on Etsy or any online platform in order to make passive income. If you don’t know what to create to sell on Etsy this will give you a great starting off point on digital items you can make.

    63 Digital Product Ideas

    The digital product ideas in this video range from the standard items you can make like SVG files to ones you might not have thought about selling like Instagram story highlights.

    Here are 50 digital product ideas you can create and sell for passive income:

    1. Art prints
    2. Birthday cards
    3. Birthday invitations
    4. Build plans
    5. Bullet journals
    6. Business cards
    7. Business logos
    8. Business planners
    9. Cash envelopes
    10. Checklists & trackers
    11. Clip art
    12. Coloring pages
    13. Craft patterns
    14. Crochet patterns
    15. Digital papers
    16. Ebooks
    17. Embroidery patterns
    18. Etsy banners
    19. Excel templates
    20. Facebook templates
    21. Flash cards
    22. Fonts
    23. Funny cards
    24. Gift tags
    25. Graduation invitations
    26. Greeting cards
    27. Holiday cards
    28. Instagram story highlights
    29. Instagram templates
    30. Invitation templates
    31. Knitting patterns
    32. Leather making patterns
    33. Lightroom presets
    34. Meal plans
    35. Party banners
    36. Party decor
    37. Party invitation
    38. Party signs
    39. Phone wallpaper
    40. Pinterest templates
    41. Planner inserts
    42. Printable backdrop
    43. Printable envelopes
    44. Printable photo props
    45. Printable stationary
    46. Printable stickers
    47. Quilt patterns
    48. Quote prints
    49. Resume templates
    50. Selfie frames
    51. Sewing patterns
    52. Shower invitations
    53. Snapchat filters
    54. Social media templates
    55. Stock photos
    56. SVG cut files
    57. Sympathy cards
    58. Thank you cards
    59. Website themes
    60. Web store themes (Shopify themes)
    61. Wedding invitations
    62. Wedding signs
    63. Workbooks

    This is a huge list of digital products and even this list is not comprehensive. I left plenty of digital products off the list! Since this list mainly focused on items you can create to sell on Etsy I didn’t even include things like courses!

    How To Decide What To Sell

    If you have been trying to decide what to sell then this will definitely help get you started! Most of these ideas can be created in free programs like Canva.

    You don’t have to have design skills or a background in digital marketing in order to create and sell digital downloads. You don’t need a formal education or design background to create digital products and earn money selling them – you just have to be curious and willing to learn!

    When deciding what type of digital product to sell I would recommend picking an area where you have a passion in life and then deciding the types of products. For example, maybe you think you should make SVG files because they are popular, but you really love making spreadsheets to keep your life and business organized. I’d focus on that instead!

    Or maybe you like planning parties so you think you need to create party invitations. But I wouldn’t limit myself to one digital product. I’d think about what types of products would complement each other in a shop that helps my target audience. You can create listings that complement and link back to each other like related party invitations, party signs, party photo booth backdrops, photo booth props, and more.

    Creating Digital Products Online

    There are a number of ways to create digital products online these days. It’s possible to make digital products to sell for free with a number of programs!

    Adobe InDesign

    Adobe InDesign – I personally use Adobe InDesign for creating all my printables because it’s the best, most reliable and has the most flexibility. There is a learning curve because it’s a professional program but it’s worth it for the hassles it removes. Try creating with Adobe InDesign’s free trial.

    Adobe Illustrator

    Adobe Illustrator – This program is a must have for all graphics creators! It allows you to do so much and the only limit will be your creativity. It’s perfect for creating wall art, clip arts, designs for SVGs, etc. Try creating with Adobe Illustrator’s free trial.

    Canva

    Canva – Canva is one of the best free editing programs where you can create a digital products and the paid version is even better with bonus features that help take your work to the next level. Try creating with Canva.

    PicMonkey

    PicMonkey – This might be a photo editing heavy program but you can also create digital downloads through PicMonkey and edit photos for stock photos sales as well. Try creating with PicMonkey.

    Selling Digital Products Online

    You will want an e-commerce platform that will allow you to both take payments and deliver your digital products to your customers. There are many different e-commerce platforms that make this possible so let’s look at the best ones for selling digital products specifically.

    Etsy

    Etsy – I love selling on Etsy because you don’t have to find people to buy your digital products – they are already on the platform and Etsy is bringing them to you! It’s easy for beginners to start and Etsy shop and you can get 40 free listings through this link.

    Podia

    Podia –  Podia is a more robust platform that will allow you to not only sell digital downloads but also offer memberships and online courses. If you have plans to grow a full online business it’s the ideal platform to use to keep everything in one place and is cheaper than most other platforms. Get a 14 day free trial of Podia here

    SendOwl 

    SendOwl – This platform is specifically designed for selling digital products. You upload the digital products and start selling immediately. This platform is just $9 per month with no additional fees taken our from sales you make. Get a free trial of SendOwl here.   

    WooCommerce

    WooCommerce – WooCommerce integrates easily with existing WordPress websites to sell digital downloads. WooCommerce is not specifically for digital downloads but they have made the process super simple for sellers and do not take additional fees from sales. I currently use WooCommerce to sell my digital downloads on my website. Get started with WooCommerce.

    Marketing Digital Products Online

    Once you’ve created your digital downloadable products and have them ready to be sold, you have to market them! People won’t know your products exist without a little effort on your part. While Etsy makes this the simplest (you just need a little SEO to go!), you should still work to promote your items in oder to make sales. The following items are what I’ve found work best for promoting digital products to the right audience.

    MailChimp – Email marketing sells more products than anything else and should be at the top of your list when you are planning to create and sell digital products. MailChimp makes it easy and cheap to get started and can scale with your business growth. Try MailChimp for free.

    Grow Your Passive Income With Digital Products

    Digital products are amazing because these are things that you can create once and sell online over and over creating passive income and freedom in your life. This benefits you but it also benefits the end user who gets something they need at a lower price point and quicker. Not everyone has the budget to pay top dollar for custom designed work so digital products have revolutionized how consumers are able to get what they need. It is truly a win win for us all.

    If you have been wanting to sell some type of digital products in order to earn passive income I highly recommend it! I started my Etsy shop to share what I had made for myself during my own budgeting journey. I definitely did not know everything about Etsy and have figured it out along the way while also selling thousands of dollars worth of products.

    If you want to grow on Etsy I recommend my friend Sharon’s Etsy Entrepreneur course where she walks you through the process of setting up an Etsy shop and growing it to make $1,000 a month or more. She grew her Etsy store of digital downloads to more than $1,000 a month and has inspired many people to do the same.

    Regardless of whether you continue to learn on your own or pay for education, I hope you keep going and keep creating products for the world to use and enjoy. You are capable of creating the products that can change your life while also helping others.

  • Trying New Budgeting Styles | April Paycheck Budget

    Our April paycheck budget has a ton of new changes because our lives are different now and it felt like a good time to change up the budget as well! We are now trying out a pay yourself first method which we will soon combine with a percentage based style like 80/20 or 50/30/20. I’ll be sharing more about these as we try new stuff out!

    While our lives are so different as we navigate the current financial crisis and global pandemic we’ve adjusted our goals for the year and it felt like a good time to change up how we budget because everything else is different too!

    Our main focus for paying ourselves first is our savings for our emergency fund and building up 3 months of expenses because $1,000 is not an emergency fund.

    Budget With Me!

    In the video you can budget along with me as we cover the budget necessities: bills, fixed expenses, variable expenses, debt payments, and sinking funds.

    This is the first time we have implemented the pay yourself first method where we put all of our goals first and make sure those are covered before anything else. That means savings, investing, and debt repayment comes first in our budget before bills of expenses like food and fun.

    If you are new to watching our budgets, here’s a little run down of our situation! We both work full time, I do freelance work and earn income from my YouTube channel and this is our take home income that I am budgeting. I cover bills, variable spending expenses, sinking funds and the goals for the month. This month we are super focused on increasing our emergency fund which we are trying to cover 3 months of expenses and eventually even more.

    April Paycheck Budget Setup

    During this paycheck our main goal was to continue building our emergency fund.

    April monthly goals:

    • Save $2,000 for our emergency fund
    • Don’t do unnecessary online shopping

    Goals for this paycheck for me were:

    • starting a new type of budget
    • setting up business payments biweekly
    • emergency fund growth

    With that in mind we broke down our April 2020 monthly budget into a more specific way for this paycheck budget.

    April 2020 Monthly Budget

    Here’s the breakdown of the paycheck budget for the first half of April 2020.

    Salary$2,599
    Extra Income$26
    Pennies Not Perfection$400
    Total Income$3,259

    With $3,259 in planned income for the month we broke it down this way.

    Pay Yourself First:

    Emergency Fund$1,130
    Student Loan$220
    Roth IRA$50
    Robinhood$10
    Ellevest$10

    Fixed Expenses:

    Mortgage$600
    Therapy$130
    Netflix$15

    Sinking Funds:

    Phone$50
    Life Insurance$35
    Car Insurance$75
    Car Repairs$50
    House$25
    Christmas$25
    Emergency Fund Extra$45

    Variable Expenses:

    Food$350
    Gas$50
    Medication$30
    Birthday$50
    J Personal$100
    M Personal$50
    Giving$100
    Misc$50
    Buffer in Acct$9

    Paying Yourself First

    Paying ourselves first is super exciting! Let’s be real, it’s fun to save money and invest money once you realize what that money can do for your in the future.

    Paying yourself first isn’t hard it just means prioritizing things like saving, investing, and paying off high interest debt. Paying yourself by doing these things before anything else in your budget is a great way to hit goals.

    We plan to continue trying this style of budgeting and see how it helps us better hit all our many goals!

    Our Emergency Fund Savings

    Because we aren’t playing many different expenses like daycare or going out to eat or going to events or throwing parties (the list goes on) we are able to save a lot more money in our emergency fund!

    We recently determined what we need for our emergency fund to equal 3-6 months of expenses.

    Looking at our monthly expenses and cutting out many things for an emergency situation means we need roughly $3,000 a month for our expenses. This means for a 3 month emergency fund we will need $9,000 saved. For a 6 month emergency fund we will want to stock up $18,000.

    We have a plan for our emergency fund and hopefully things go well and we can save it up with our extra income coming in and big paychecks from the government.

    Now with planning to save $2,000 a month we will also be adding a lot of our regular income to our emergency fund. This means we will be able to save up to $9,000 much quicker than I originally expected.

    This paycheck we were able to save over $1,000 to the emergency fund which moves us even closer to our goals.

    Investing To Hit Goals

    While we are prioritizing savings during this time due to potential job security, we are also continuing to invest small amounts into the market and dollar cost average our investments.

    One of my goals this year is to max out my Roth IRA and because I haven’t started on that goal yet it felt like a good time to get going on that goal.

    I’ve been investing for a long time now and I love investing when markets are going up and when markets are going down. In fact, my shortest time frame investments are for at least 15-16 years from now when I want to use the dividends to help my daughter.

    Because I am not investing money for the short term I don’t worry much about the markets year to year ups and downs because I know that in a long time frame that money will continue to grow. That’s why I’m still investing small amounts even when I have bigger goals to achieve, because I know small amounts I won’t miss now will add up to huge amounts later.

    I’ve talked a bit about the investing platforms I use for different purposes and here are the ones I plan to use this month:

    Because all of thee accounts have different goals and allow me to try out the more popular investing platforms I’m able to try different things and also work toward multiple goals in the far off future.

    Trying New Budgeting Styles

    I don’t call myself a budgeting expert and probably never will because there are too many styles of budgeting. What works for me for a while doesn’t work for me at another time. What works for me may never work for you.

    The thing is that creating a budget and following it during times of uncertainty and times of stability both helps you create a sense of calm and control. And if budgeting doesn’t feel like it’s working for you? Try a different method!

    Some people love budgeting by paycheck. Some people love Dave Ramsey’s method. Some people adore YNAB. Some people do 50/30/20 percentage based budgeting. There really are many styles of budgeting and one size does not fit all!

    I plant to go through a few more styles of budgeting to see if we can improve on what already works for us. I think it is great to take the best bits of advice from various sources and make them work for you. Best practices from others can improve your life very quickly and that includes with budgeting!

    No matter what your goals are, continue with budgeting and using your money wisely and consistently to hit your goals. You don’t have to be perfect with your money but you do need to be consistent!