Are Rental Properties Really a Good Investment?

Although having a 9-5 job is the traditional way to make a living, there are actually lots of other ways to earn money. If you are interested in making a little bit extra, many Americans earn a second income  by having rental property. Here’s a list and explanation of whether or not rental properties are worth their work and if they can be a good investment. Remember, though, these are just general tips and suggestions. Something on this list may or may not work for you depending on your location, budget, and other circumstances.
  1. Location is key, and should be the first thing considered. A really nice home or apartment in a greatly located area, with a close proximity to necessary amenities (schools, gas station, grocery stores). For most people, location is areal concerns when buying into the rental business; they can make or break your investment or drive you absolutely crazy! The safest bet is to get an affordable property in a nice (but not too fancy) part of town that you’re okay with visiting when need be. Anything else and you might find yourself losing money or dreading dealing with it.
  2. Once you have a location picked out that you think is profitable and tolerable, it’s time to secure the tenants. Now, in reality, this can go one of two ways, and you don’t have a whole lot of say in it. There are some steps you can take to make sure you get good tenants, but you’ll need to put in a little bit of extra legwork. If you have bad tenants, then you’re going to find yourself more frustrated than not and having to fix a lot of broken and run down things. All the extra stress of doing repairs, figuring out late rent, dealing with complaints, etc. may not be worth the money you’re getting out of the property. Having credit checks, and an interview process can help to ensure both the tenant and landlord have a nice experience.
  3. One of the perks of having rental property is the return on investments. It is virtually impossible to make the amount of money in any other industry, can you make as much money so quickly as you can with rental properties. Every month, you’ll be getting hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars from your tenants, depending on the size and number of your rental properties. Those payments largely go into your pocket, although some comes out for insurance, repairs, etc. One great option for renting is if you bought a house and there is a basement apartment. The money you make from rent each month should pay off your monthly mortgage, leaving you with zero debts to pay back. This is especially great if you live in a college town where students are always looking for housing. It may be a hassle at times, but if you’re willing to work through it, then it’s a good system.
  4. Unlike a car or a piece of technology, real estate actually goes up in value over time. Many people get into the rental business purely because of the appreciation. You can buy a house for one price and then, if you decide to sell it later, you’re probably going to make money off it just because time has passed. However, this isn’t as easy as writing a check or depositing one. Buying, renting, and selling property can be a very laborious and stressful journey. You also need to make sure to take good care of the property. If you buy a nice place but let it fall apart, then you’re going to lose drastic amounts of money if you try to sell it as is. The appreciation on rental property can be great (especially if you made lots of money while renting it, too), but it isn’t something you just buy and completely forget about.
  5. While this might be a more technical aspect of owning rental property, one of the benefits is the tax shelter it offers. You can often write large expenses off if they’re related to owning and maintaining the property. Rental properties (like all real estate) also build equity while you own them, and you don’t have to pay taxes on that equity! Also, because it’s a tangible investment, the interest rate on loans taken out to pay for real estate are often quite low. That means you’ll be getting the same amount of money but not having to pay as much back on it compared to a student loan or something similar. When it comes to taxes and interest, a rental property is a good way to go.
  6. If you want to get into the rental game, then you need to be (or become) patient.When you get into renting, you have to put a lot of money into the property at first and, only farther down the road, will you really see the benefits. When you first start, you may not be making much money at all, what with the mortgage, repairs, contracting, and advertising you have to do. However, after ten years or so, the property will be completely paid off and you’ll have a big fat check coming your way every month that can really bulk up your budget. In fact, this is a great way for most retirees to make some extra money to travel!
Not everyone is going to want to dedicate as much time as energy into rental property as is needed to keep it profitable. However, if you are someone with drive, ambition, and a willingness to do hard work, then it’s very possible that rental properties could be a great investment for you. Before you jump into the market, do some research and make sure it’s a good time to buy and it’s something you really want to get involved in!

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Top 7 Shopping Rebate Programs to Save You Money on Your Purchases

It’s pretty well known that no one ever turns down a chance to save a few bucks. . Luckily for all of the money saving lovers, the surge of internet and mobile technologies has made it extremely easy to access rebates, coupons, and killer deals! Not everyone knows this, but there are actually tons of apps and online programs out there that will help you save tons of money on your everyday purchases. Here’s a list of seven of some of the best shopping rebate programs you can get involved with!

  1. One of the most famous and popular rebate programs has got to be Ibotta. It’s so widely-used because it’s straight-forward and pretty user-friendly. Instead of having to scour the Internet and advertisements for rebates on your products, this one severely cuts the process down! Pretty much, you download the app, take a picture of your receipt, confirm your purchases, and then get money back! The app gives you access to all sorts of rebates that are available without you having to go out and find each one individually. Once you’ve reached the $10 minimum, you can get the amount on a gift card or deposited into a participating account. Simple and so easy to use! There’s also a group feature on this app, so you can save money with friends and family!
  2. Another pretty popular rebate program is Ebates. While this is only limited to online purchases, it’s still a very preferred program because of the vast amount of rebates it offers. Ebates is affiliated with 1,700 online stores, so you’ll definitely find a few that offers products you already buy. Not only that, but it claims to have given out $325 million dollars back to all of its users since it began in 1998; that’s pretty impressive! Signing up is really easy—just create an account, go shopping, and then the rebates are applied to your account. Every site is different, so make sure you do a little looking around to secure the best deal. Because it’s so easy and pain free, there’s really no reason to get some cash back from all your online shopping.
  3. Checkout51 is a recent program that has actually been gaining quite a bit of traction lately. A really handy feature of this app is that it doesn’t base it’s rebates off the store but off the product. That way, even if you live in the middle of nowhere and don’t have any big brand stores, you can still get money back from the included products in Checkout51’s database. Another nice feature of this app is that it’s updated on a weekly basis. So if there’s something that you want to buy this week but doesn’t have a rebate, it could very well be on there the next week!
  4. You’ve all probably heard of (and used) Groupon, but did you know they have a rebate program too? It’s called Snap by Groupon, and if it’s anything like its parent company, then I’m sure it has great deals and money saving opportunities. This works much like the other rebate apps we’ve talked about so far, but I’m sure it’s got a database with a few different offers than the others. Something nice about Snap is that it has highlighted weekly offers, so right away you can know what products will give you the most money back. This app is said to have higher payouts than most other apps and also has multiple to unlimited redemptions on certain products.
  5. This next app has the most honest name I’ve seen so far: Rather Be Shopping. Isn’t that great! The awesome thing about this app is that it combines online coupons with in-store coupons so, no matter how you like to shop, there’s something on this app for you! The creator of this add suggests doing research before you go out and shop and use this app. First, decide where you want to go shopping and then find coupons that that store is offering. Make sure they’re downloaded or up on the phone so that, when you do go to check out, you don’t have to be fumbling around on your phone, but they’ll be right there.
  6. Saving Star is a unique take to the whole rebate game and offers a few perks that the other apps don’t (at least not yet). The most unique thing about the Saving Star app is that you can link it to your store loyalty cards. This makes using the app and keeping track of your money back and rebates way easier than other programs! If you are doing online shopping with this, then you have to make the purchases through the Saving Stars website and the appropriate rebate will be applied. The amount of cashback ranges from 1.5% to up to 5%, depending on the retailer and the product.
  7. Shopium is another rebate program that is a little different than the rest of them. It follows the same overall process (buy items, scan receipt, get money back, repeat), but it’s offers are solely exclusive to the users. That means it has rebates and offers that other programs and apps don’t have, which is always a plus! Shopium is a great complement to the other apps and can be used together to make your savings even bigger!

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How to Clean up Your Credit and Turn Things Around- Useful Tips for a New Start

We all make mistakes, and often times, those mistakes can be reflected in our credit score. While there’s no way to completely erase your credit history and start over (wouldn’t that be nice), there are a few ways to clean up your credit.  Here are just a few useful tips to help you get a new start on your credit!
  1. First off, you need to make sure your credit score accurately represents your use of credit. Believe it or not, it’s very possible for your credit score to have some negative data that simply isn’t true. Now, this isn’t because someone’s out to get you, but credit record keepers are humans. Yes, they sometimes make mistakes in the data that’s inputted into your credit score. So, if your score is lower than what you’d like, go through and check all the records. A recent study actually showed that one in five credit reports have material errors in them. That means it’s very possible that your bad credit isn’t your fault but simply a recording error!
  2. It’s really easy to approach your credit score and get lost in all the legal jargon and details that seems to surround it. However, there are a few laws that are important to understand when it comes to improving your credit score. You don’t need to be an attorney to understand these laws, either; they’re pretty straightforward. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires that the credit bureaus to provide a free credit report to you each year if you ask for it. You shouldn’t have to pay any fees or charges just to know what your credit score is. The Fair Credit Billing Act means that—if any company or vendor charges you for something you didn’t buy, the incorrect amount, or some other unfair bill—you can both contest those charges and demand that they take charge in getting it cleared off your credit score.
  3. In order for negative information to be applied to your credit score, the company that reported it must have evidence to back that data. So, if you think the company incorrectly charged you or is lowering your credit score without sufficient evidence, then you can fight it. They have the burden of evidence and, if it can’t be produced, then you have the legal right to demand they remove the negative information. This can be especially effective if there was something in the distant past that is lowering your credit score. Because companies go out of business, merge, lose data, etc. over time, it will be harder for them to provide evidence of your bad credit. So, if you feel like some dark splotch has been on your credit report for too long, then go ahead and challenge it. The company is legally obligated to show evidence, which may not even exist!
  4. Another aspect of negative information on your credit score is that is has to be complete. These simply means that it has to accurately represent the whole situation, not just the bad part. For example, if you were billed something twice, but already paid it once, and the company reports the missed second payment as a negative, then that’s simply not fair. While just seeing that you missed a payment may look back, when the full picture is taken into account it’s obvious that it’s not your fault. There are actually lots of situations like this that get put onto credit reports and unfairly lower your credit score.
  5. You should also be aware that, for most negative data on your credit score, it can only be on your report for seven years. However, credit bureaus are notorious for not removing those spots from your score when they should be. So, go through your credit score and make sure it’s up to date. However, remember that bankruptcies stay on for 10 years and any unpaid judgments last 7 years or until the statute of limitations expires—whichever comes last.
  6. If you’ve looked over your credit report and think that there is information that is either inaccurate or should be removed, then make sure you have the sufficient documents to prove it. While the burden of evidence is heavier on the vendor or company to prove that the data is correct, you still need to have at least a small paper trail to speed up the process. Bills, credit reports, bank statements, etc. can all help you prove you point and get your credit score back up. Send the information to both the creditor that’s reported your bad credit and the credit bureau. Hopefully it will stick with at least one of them. Many credit experts suggest that you do this whole process via snail mail because it guarantees your right to see the vendor’s evidence that backs up the negative data. If you contest the information over the phone or on the Internet, then you may lose some of those rights.
  7. While all of this advice is great for improving your credit score after it’s been dealt a bad blow, I always like to say that it’s better to be prevent something bad from happening than having to fix it later. So, instead of letting your credit score fall low, stay on top of it so it never gets low! You can do this by periodically ordering your credit score and analyzing it, or enrolling in a free monitoring service that gives you monthly updates. Program like Credit Karma not only give you access to your credit score, but they also update you when changes occur to your score or other important things happen.
Your credit score and credit history will affect you throughout your entire life.  It is worth the time and energy it requires to check your credit regularly, to be sure that it reflects accurate information.  Also, do what you can to fix your credit score by either paying off bad debts/liens, contacting creditors to fix an error, or to simply start anew.  Be sure you are making payments regularly and don’t get behind on loans or credit cards.  Be sure medical bills are paid before they are sent to collections.  Also, if you don’t have any credit accounts, this can negatively affect your credit score.  Apply for a credit card and use it regularly.  Don’t carry a balance that is close to the credit limit.  It is recommended that you stay below 50% of your credit limit in order to maintain the highest credit score you can.  Don’t be late on any credit card payments.  If you apply for a loan, pay the loan regularly as required, but be sure not to pay it off within 6 months so that it is recorded on your credit history.  When possible, be sure your name is on loans that you are involved in and be diligent in paying them by the due date.

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15 Mistakes People Make When Paying Off Debt

Paying off debt is going to be unique for each person and situation, there isn’t one right method that will work for everyone. However there are definitely some universal methods that will help anyone get out of debt, if followed.  Avoid these 15 mistakes when trying to pay off your debt, and you’ll be debt free before you know it!

1. Not creating an accurate monthly budget.

We all know and have heard how crucial a monthly budget is when wanting to pay off debt (and it is), but we often make the mistake of creating an inaccurate budget. Figure out what you are actually spending and go from there.  Decide what you should be spending or what you want to be spending.  Creating a budget isn’t necessarily just writing down what you spend each month, although that is a great place to start.  You need to make sure that you have a very realistic budget, and have a plan for the money that is planned to be left over each month.  If you don’t have a plan to “save” or invest it, or to use it to pay off other debts, often it will just get sucked into the abyss of extra spending to never be heard from again.  Be sure to budget for life.  This means that budget for birthday gifts, car repairs that might happen, etc.  If you never allow for anything extra, you will continually get frustrated when those expenses come up. Remember, those “unexpected” expenses, are actually “Expected” in life. 2. Not Using a Debt Snowball A debt snowball is when you take your smallest debt and pay as much as possible to that debt, while still making minimum payments on other debts, until it is paid off. Then once that debt is paid off, you take the amount you were spending on it each month and add it to the payment of your next debt. This will give you the confidence of getting rid of your debts one at a time, and help you to pay more than the minimum payment.  This is tried and true and works for many reasons.  First, it gives you momentum and takes the “guess” work out of figuring out how much to pay on each thing.  It will also reduce the amount of interest you spend overall, because the sooner each debt is paid off, the sooner you are no longer paying interest on that card. 3. Using your Debit Card For Everything I know that debit cards are much better to use than credit cards, but there have been studies that show that we almost always overspend when we use a card vs cash. This doesn’t mean you need to cut up your debit card and never use it, but find those areas of your budget where you tend to overspend and create a cash envelope. Groceries are usually at the top of the overspending list. If you take a cash envelope with your allotted grocery budget to the store, then you can’t go over what you have planned.  If every time I wanted to go out to eat, I brought cash, I would probably order differently.  Truth. 4. Paying the Payment It’s easy to set up automatic bill pay, and pretend like those debts aren’t there. If we only pay minimum payments, with interest accruing, it will take years to pay off even the smallest of debts.  Find ways to pay more than just the minimum amount.  Work a side job or make money online from home to allow yourself some extra money to knock out the loans or debts.  Minimum payments are what make credit card companies rich. 5. Losing Momentum. This happens to everyone.  Getting out of debt is hard and it can take time.  Sometimes, we lose momentum and the motivation to stay on top of it.  I know for my husband and I, when we were paying off our debt, we had to still allow time and money for some dinner dates and a few other extras or we started to get crazy.  We also found that after a really long “financial fast” we would binge-buy something unnecessary.  It was an emotional response to feeling trapped.  What you need to remember is that debt is the trap and you are actually working toward freedom.  Track your progress, write down your goals, and consistently talk about your goals and work toward each milestone. Consider creating a debt sheet, and cross off the payments made, or the accounts that are paid off. The debt snowball is another way to stay motivated as you see your debts disappear one by one. Find something that works for you. 6. Forgetting to cut lifestyle expenses. Budgeting is more than just knowing the amount of money you are spending in each area of your life. We actually have to cut back on our expenses, if we want to meet our debt goals.  Stop eating out, go on free dates, create a limit on birthday and Christmas gifts, etc. That extra money to pay off debt is not going to come from thin air…you have to create it by spending less.  If you have to go out to eat, consider sharing a meal (this works at some places, not others) and order water.  There are ways to cut back on expenses without being miserable.  Find a balance. 7. Wasting food. This may seem silly, but grocery bills add up quickly. If you are smart with meal planning and buying, you can save so much money! Be smart with that food you buy…don’t buy too much of things that will go bad, freeze what you can, EAT LEFTOVERS!! Any time you throw away food, you are throwing away money.  There are a lot of recipe websites that will give you new ideas for leftovers, which are pretty cool!  Use up your extras by making it into new things.  Use the rest of your roast and make beef tacos the next day, etc.  This takes a little bit of planning, but once you are in the habit of it, it makes dinner easier, because half of the work is done! 8. Adding to your debt. This is an easy mistake to make. We are excited to put extra money on the credit card and we pay all of our bills and are left with… not enough money to live on the rest of the month.  Enter: credit card.  Don’t do this!  If we are trying to get out of debt, don’t even use your credit cards.  It is a slippery slope and a dangerous habit. Don’t leave yourself without the money that you need each month, or you will find yourself charging things again to pay for your basic needs. 9. Not Setting Goals I am in love with goals. Without goals, I would be nowhere.  I set goals and make task lists and it is what keeps me going.  If you don’t have goals, you don’t know where you are headed.  IF you don’t know your destination, you won’t know what path to take.  It is simple, but life-changing.  Set debt goals.  Maybe you want 2 store credit cards paid off by the end of the year.  Maybe you want to pay off your car by your birthday.  Set clear, specific, realistic but uncomfortable goals and lay out a path to get there.  If “I want to pay off my car by my birthday.  In order to do that, I need to pay ($fill in the blank$) amount each month until then.  I don’t have that much extra money each month, so I need a side gig to make some extra cash.” We need to think about our long term goals and plans, so we know where we are headed and we can track our progress along the way.  This is extremely motivating and will keep you on the right path.

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10. Paying bills late.

Be sure that you are still paying minimum payments on time as you pay off your debts.  Don’t focus so much on one debt that you forget about the due dates on the other ones.  Late payments create late fees and increased interest rates.  Whenever possible try and set up automatic bill pay to ensure that you are always on time. 11. Taking the saving too far. Now I mentioned earlier about “really cutting back” but I also want to give a word of caution about this. Yes, cut back but be realistic as well. If you cut back too much then it won’t take long for an explosion to happen. It’s like when someone goes on an extreme diet, and they do good for awhile, but pretty soon they can’t take it and they splurge on an entire chocolate cake. Instead it’s better to live in moderation. 12. Forgetting that this is a team effort. If you are married, or in a relationship where your finances affect each other, then you cannot do this alone. You need someone to support you and keep you accountable to your goals. You also want to be there to encourage each other and get excited about your progress.  You also need to be on the same page with how much you are spending and where. So talk together and figure out a plan of attack that you are both okay with. 13. Having a good reason to be debt free. This comes back to goals.  Why are you getting out of debt?  Is it to live life more freely?  Is it to prepare for retirement?  Is it to reach your next set of financial goals?  We all know that being debt free is good, and that we should do everything we can to pay off debt. You have to find YOUR motivation for being debt free. What motivates you? When it becomes a big desire that you have and not just “what you should do” that’s when the real changes are going to happen. 14. Not using extra money. Chances are you’ll eventually get a tax return, a raise, birthday money, etc. So, you can go out and spend the money, or apply it to your debt and pay it off that much faster! The choice is yours.  No judging here 🙂 15. Forgetting to enjoy the journey. Finances are stressful… and they can be really stressful. It is so important to be smart about your money and budget, and pay off debt……but you still need to live.  Find joy in the journey and be happy.   You can find joy in life even when you’re in debt believe it or not! So be creative with your saving and frugal living and make it enjoyable!

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15 Money Mistakes to Stop Right Now!

We’ve all struggled with money. Even if you haven’t, you’ve probably made a decision or two in which you were throwing your money away. It’s always a good idea to evaluate and analyze your cash flow every now and then to make sure you’re getting the most bang for each buck. Here are some money mistakes that we all make and that we should stop making right now!

Not Having a Budget. If you don’t have a budget, create one.  Without a budget, you won’t know what you’re spending your money on, and knowledge is power when it comes to finances. Look at your monthly income, and make categories that fit all your wants and needs (cutting any wants, if necessary).

Using Credit Cards without Paying Them In Full. When possible, only use your credit on things that you can pay off in full. Having a credit card is a good idea because it builds credit and you can get some nice rewards, but don’t max it out just because you can. Instead, buy things on your credit card, but pay them off in full before the deadline—this will prevent unneeded interested accruing against you.

Not Having a Savings Account or Emergency Fund. Having a savings funds or emergency money is great, but don’t just store away all your cash like that. This makes your money become stagnant, making it less valuable as inflation increases. Instead, put some money aside for emergencies, and then invest the rest in stocks or something similar.

Buying Expensive (new) Cars. If you’re out looking for a car, consider looking at a used model. Even a car that’s a year old is going to be a much better deal than this year’s newest model. Cars can never increase in value, they only depreciate, so buying a new car similar to throwing money out of the window.

Spending Too Much on Food. Food can be a huge hidden expense. Try to sit down and make a meal plan for the week. This will keep you focused so that, instead of buying a $10 meal at lunch, you can pack your own for a fraction of the price. Over a year, this can save you thousands of dollars.

Not Setting Financial Goals. To get your financial life on track, it’s important to set financial goals. This are things that you can work towards so that your money is being spent or saved with purpose. Make some financial goals and then stick to them!

Not Discussing Finances as a Couple. If you’re married, then sit down with your spouse and talk to him or her about your finances. I cannot stress how important this is! Not only will it help your marriage, but you’ll see your money start to bulk up. There are 6 Critical Financial Discussions every married couple should have. Once you’re both on the same page, there will be less frustration between both of you and you’ll have twice as much energy and will power to reach your goals.

Not Paying off Debt in a Smart Way. Debt has a nasty way of sticking with us and ruining any happy financial prospects we may have. If you have debts, don’t spread your money across all of them, but focus on the smallest one until it’s gone. That way, you won’t be paying interest on it anymore, which gives you more money to throw at your larger debts.  This is called a debt snowball and it really works.

Being Complacent at Work. We live in a very competition driven world these days. That can sometimes be frustrating, but it can also work to your advantage. If you feel like you deserve a raise at work, then talk to your boss. One huge money mistake we make is not being aggressive enough in the workplace.  If you are worth more than you are being paid, talk to your superiors. If you aren’t satisfied with your pay, look elsewhere for work that will pay you what you are worth.

Focusing on Everyone Else’s Finances. It’s way too hard to work on your own financial goals while you are working hard to “keep up with the Jones’ is probably the least productive thing you can do with your time and energy.  Everyone’s life is different—that’s a fact of life. So trying to compete with someone else is only going to make you upset and, probably, in debt. Focus on yourself and your situation and do what works for you.

Spending too Much on Gifts. You don’t need to spend tons of cash to show your friends and family that you love and appreciate them. It might be tempting to buy a really nice present or gift for a loved one, but don’t do it if you can’t afford it. Showing love in a different way for them.

Not Investing in Your Retirement. Start now, no matter how old you are, to invest in a retirement plan. You’ll want to make sure that you have enough money when you’re older to actually support yourself when you stop working. The way you choose to invest your money now can greatly affect how happy and stress-free your life down the road will be.

Buying Things at Full Price. Whenever possible, don’t buy things at full price. That’s not always going to be the case for everything, but you can often find great deals or gently used items that are much more cost-savvy than brand new ones. Even if you have to wait a few weeks for something to go on sale, it will be worth it in the long run.

Not Being Able to Say “No.” Remember that it’s okay to say “no” sometimes. If you don’t have the money to invest in your best friend’s new business or you can’t afford a nice vacation this year, that’s okay. Financial situations change, and be honest and upfront with yourself and others (when necessary) if some cuts and changes need to be made.

Your Happiness from Relying on Money. Lastly, remember that money doesn’t equal happiness. Don’t get so wrapped up in your finances that you forget to enjoy life! Yes, it’s important to have a plan for your money, but that doesn’t need to consume your life. Be responsible with your money, and then focus on what makes you happy.

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35 Things You Do if You Want to Save Money

No one is ever going to say no to saving and having more money. And, believe it or not, you don’t have to stop having fun or doing things you like in order to store up some extra cash. There are small but effective ways that you can save money, and here are just a few of them!

35 Things You Do if You Want to Save Money

Budget

If you haven’t already, make a budget for you and your family. Budgets help you know how much you are making and how much, in general, you should be spending in every area of your financial life.

More Energy Efficient House

This may cost some money in the beginning, but it will save you money in the long run. Invest in energy saving appliances like a dryer, washer, or fridge that will cut your utility bills in half!

Price Check Your Rates

Spend some time looking for new insurance when it’s up for renewal. We often stick with bad rates and high costs because we’re familiar with the company and our policy. However, doing just a little bit of research can save you hundreds of dollars throughout the year.

Plan Meals

Take a few extra minutes every week and plan out what you will be eating. This will stop you from buying things on the go and prevent food from going bad that you never eat.

Plan Holidays and Vacations

It may sound silly, but planning vacations and holidays around free events and good deals is a great way to save money and still have fun! You’d be surprised at how many great deals are around tourist areas if you just put in the time and effort to find them.

35 Things You Do if You Want to Save Money2

Don’t Waste Food

Whether there’s a lot of people living in your home or it’s just you, evaluate how much food you’re buying and wasting and then adjust accordingly. If you find that you throw away 50% of your fruit before you eat them, then buy less fruit! It’s that simple!

Sell Old Electronics and Unused Items

We all have that closet that’s got boxes of unused items stashed away, or that drawer that houses our old and abandoned electronics. Take some time to clean them out and sell anything that you think other people would want to buy.

Use Household Products

You don’t need to go out and buy expensive, store bought, chemical cleaners. Instead, just use items you already have around the house. For example, you can clean a lot of surfaces with baking soda and/or lemon juice. Find some ideas online and save some money!

Do Your Research

Before you make any big purchase, do your research. Read online reviews, compare prices and quality, find different vendors, etc. This may take some time, but it will save you in the end, plus you won’t be frustrated with buying a bad product since you’ll know it’s good quality!

Wait if Needed

Try implementing the 30-day rule. Pretty much, if you want to buy something on an impulse, wait 30 days. If you still want/need that thing after 30 days, then you can consider buying it. This will whittle away at those things that you actually don’t need or want in your life.

Solar Panels

It may sound a little extreme, but if you have a bit of extra cash, install solar panels on your home. In only about five years, you’ll start making money off your investment. Not only that, but if there is ever a power outage, you can program your solar panels to power your fridge, freezer, or other essential items that need electricity.

Credit Card Rewards

Lots of people will tell you to shy away from credit cards if you want to save money, but that’s not always the case. If you’re smart, you can actually make money off of using your credit card because of all the perks and rewards they offer. Find a credit card that has deals you like and go for it!

Spend Less than you Make

However, make sure to live within your budget still. A good rule of thumb is to not buy anything that you won’t be able to pay off within the month. That way, you won’t have any interest building up against you, but you’ll still get all the perks and rewards!

Avoid Gambling

Some people win big from gambling, but most people just lose money. I would suggest not trying to press your luck and win the lottery. Instead, take that money you want to spend on a scratch ticket and invest it in stock or put it towards your savings.

Learn Basic Home Repair

By teaching yourself how to fix a leaky pipe, change a tire, or unclog the shower, you can save hundreds of dollars every year. Hiring someone to do maintenance is a costly expense, and most of the basic fixes they do you can do yourself!

Yard Sale

Round up all the stuff you don’t need or use anymore and have a yard sale! Not only will this get you money, but it will also help you remember what stuff you and your family doesn’t use. For example, if you’re selling your treadmill that’s never been touched, don’t go out and buy a new one in a few months!

DIY Projects

DIY projects are both fun and cheap! You don’t have to spend nearly as much money as you would on an already-made product, plus you get to put your own style and touch on the craft!

Entertain Children Cheaply

There’s really no point in spending hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars to buy your kids the best toys or go on the craziest vacations. Kids can be entertained by a box, so reign in your elaborate presents for them and they probably won’t even notice!

Avoid Fast Food

I know it seems convenient (and sometimes tasty), but fast food is NOT a good way to save money. Plus, it’s not really ever good for you. So, do your wallet and your waist a favor and stop getting fast food.

Stop Smoking

If you smoke, then quit right now! The habit isn’t just dangerous for your health, it’s also bad for your cash flow. Seek help and medicine if required, and you’ll see an increase in money, for sure, even if the cost up front is more than a pack of cigarettes.

Replace Your Car Air Filter

By replacing your car filter, you can increase your gas mileage up to 7%! That’s pretty crazy, if you think about it in the longrun. And changing your filter is super easy and doesn’t take much time a tall.

Limit Subscriptions

While it might be nice to get your favorite magazines in the mail or those subscription boxes that you love, but are they really worth it? If you want to, you can keep one or two subscriptions, but try to get rid of the rest. Over time, they eat up a lot of your money.

Buy Used When Possible

Most items work just as well, even if they’re used. Cars are a huge thing that you’ll want to buy used, since it doesn’t really make sense to buy a new car. You can also buy used clothes, books, toys, etc.

Buy Generic

Believe it or not, name brand and generic items are almost equal in quality (if not actually equal). When you pay all that extra cash for name brand, you’re just buying the label, not better quality.

10-Second Rule

Whenever you go shopping, try to follow the 10-second rule. Every time you pick up an item or product that you don’t need, ask yourself, “why am I buying this?” If you can’t come up with a good reason within ten seconds, then don’t buy the item.

35 Things You Do if You Want to Save Money6

Creative Gift Giving

Instead of spending a fortune on presents and gifts, trying giving creative gifts this year. You could do homemade objects (like soaps, crafts, lotions, candles, etc.) or even give the gift of labor! You can offer babysitting to new parents or a free car tune-up, for example.

Rent Out Unused Space

No point in letting all that empty space in your home go to waste. If you have an extra room, or even a whole floor that’s not being used, considering renting it out or at least doing a program like Airbnb.

Visual Debt Reminder

Make a visual debt reminder that will help you see how much money you owe. That way, when you’re tempted to buy a new TV or something you don’t really need, you can look at the debt reminder and remember what’s really important!

Swap chores

You can also considering setting up a services swap with your friends of neighbors. Pretty much, you often to pay each other in services instead of money for things you need done. You can offer babysitting, yard work, house repairs, etc. It’s a great way to make friends and save some money.

Keep Leftovers

I’m so surprised at how many people just throw away their leftovers, even from restaurants! You can still be classy and get a doggy bag, I promise. Or, even at home, save the leftovers and use them for lunches. It’s cheap, tasty, and saves you money.

Public Transportation

Depending on where you live, this can be a great way to save tons of money while also not having to worry about things like car insurance and auto loan payments. You save money and are hassle free because you don’t have to park or worry about other car-related problems!

Carpool

If you really want to keep your car, then use it smarter. Carpooling is a great way to help the environment and you’re wallet! Find people at work that live nearby who you can start a carpool with so it’s cheaper for all of you.

Buy a Deep Freezer

This is an expense at first, but it allows you to stockpile in bulk, which saves you money in the end. Just make sure you log what’s in the deep freezer and how long it’s been in there so you don’t have chicken nuggets that are six years old. Yuck!

Cheaper Place to Live

Some cities or parts of cities are just ridiculously expensive and not even worth it. If that sounds familiar, then consider moving. I know it can be a lot of work, but if you can pay less in rent/mortgage or get more bang for your buck, then it’s definitely a smart investment.

Community Calendar

Most cities and towns have a community calendar that list all of the free activities that they’ll be throwing that year or at least within the next few months. Check it out and find some activities that you and your family can enjoy together…for free!

For Other Great Ways to Add More to Your Income, See these Other Related Posts:

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8 Legit Ways to Make Money From Home

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35 Things You Do if You Want to Save Money

25 Easy Ways to Save Money

We all want to make more money, but it seems like it can be such hard work sometimes. You either have to take a whole new job or spend $0 on fun things until you’ve reached the amount of money you want. However, you don’t need to make such sacrifices anymore! Here are 25 easy ways that anyone can start saving money.

Budget

I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it because it’s so important: Budget, budget, budget. If you haven’t, then start; if you have one, then sit down and re-evaluate. It can never hurt to go over your budget again and work out any kinks. This will help you be more accountable with where and how you spend your money.

Snowball Method

If you have debts that are gathering interest, here’s the best way to pay them off and keep that money for yourself. Instead of spreading your extra money across multiple different payments, only pay the minimum on all but one—the smallest one. From there, work you’re way up through the next biggest debt until they’re all gone.

Overpay

Like the snowball method, overpay a bit on your debts or credit cards as much as you can. This will keep the interest levels down while also helping you whittle away at the debt as a whole.

Water Meter

Invest in a water meter for your house. This will help you measure and keep track of how much water you’re using and when so that you can figure out ways to make your water use more efficient.

Pack Lunches

Don’t buy lunches for you or your family. Instead, spend some time every night or morning and make packed lunches. This saves you money (since packed lunches are cheaper than ones you buy), but it’s also probably healthier since you’ll be controlling what you and your family eat.

Keep Doors and Windows Shut

This is especially important if you have kids or animals in the house. Doors and windows often get opened and never get shut, letting the cold air out during the summer and hot air out during the winter. This, in turn, makes you pay more to keep your home at a nice temperature.

Seal Cracks or Leaks

Besides keeping doors and windows shut, you’ll also want to check for any cracks or leaks in them that are slowly letting in cold or hot air. Even if it’s a subtle crack, it can costs hundreds of dollars to be thrown away on your utilities.

Garden

Save some money by growing your own vegetables, fruit, and herbs. You’d be surprised at how much money you spend on those kinds of foods, plus it’s a great way to be self-sufficient and get out in the great weather!

Check Offers

Before you go shopping or out to buy something, check to make sure you’re getting the best deal. This might mean spending a few extra minutes scanning online for competing prices or looking over a store’s catalogue, but it’s worth it if you can save some money!

Rebate Program

There are tons of rebate programs you can get involved in or couponing sites that save you money! Ebates is one of the most popular, but you can enroll in numerous programs with all sorts of different perks and benefits.

Buy Used Books or free Kindle books If you love to read and have your own library, then buy your books secondhand or buy electronic versions. I’m not a fan of e-books, but you can get some great deals (even free books) if you use a Kindle or other similar product. If you want a hard copy, then buy a gently used copy that you can still read but doesn’t cost nearly as much. Use the Library If you like to read but don’t care about owning your own books, then consider just using the library. You usually only have to pay a one time fee (or small annual fee) to get a library card and then you can read as many books as you want. Buy in Bulk This isn’t always the case, but buying in bulk makes the price of each individual item go down significantly. If you have a big family or go through certain items really quickly, then this is a great idea. For small things, don’t buy in bulk However, buying in bulk may actually be bad for you. If you live by yourself or your family doesn’t go through things like milk or ranch very fast, then buying them in bulk may be a waste of money. If you find yourself throwing out food before it gets used, then stop buying in bulk and buy the size that you’ll actually use. Save Spare Change It might be tempting to just leave your change in the cash register or get rid of it, but don’t! Keep your spare change and collect it. Over time, you’ll get a pretty hefty collection of change that you can use for whatever you want! Turn off Lights Get you and your family in the habit of turning off lights when they’re not being used. This seems especially difficult for kids to grasp, but it’s a good habit to start. You’d be surprised at how often this happens and how much money you can save if you can start turning them off when not in use. Coupon, Coupon, Coupon There’s really no reason not to use coupons. They’re easy to get, free, and give you great deals on products you were probably already going to buy. Look for store and manufacturer coupons to save twice as much. Don’t Get Sucked into Sales Just because something is on sale doesn’t mean that you need it. Avoid the urge to say, “Oh! It’s on sale now, so I should buy it before they’re all gone” or something similar. If you tell yourself that, then you probably didn’t need the item in the first place. Buy Based on Value, Not Price This is hard for some people to do (I was one of them), but it really is better to buy based on value and not on price. A shirt that’s $5 but falls apart in two days isn’t nearly as smart of an investment as a $20 shirt that last you years. Buy Used Baby Clothes It’s silly to buy brand new baby and kid clothes. They’re going to outgrow them in a few months, and then you’ll just have to spend more money. Buy used (but still clean and good quality) baby clothes since they’re only going to be used for a little bit. 25 Easy Ways to Save Money5 Use Less Laundry Detergent Companies are tricky when it comes to laundry detergent because they usually put a scoop that is way too big so you’ll use more cleaner. Clever, right? Beat them at their own game by using less detergent (usually half the scoop will do the trick), and you’ll take a lot longer to go through it all. No Gym Membership I’ve always found it funny that people will drive to go to the gym. I know you do more than run and walk at the gym, but you’re wasting money on gas and the gym membership when you do that. Get rid of the membership and buy a workout DVD or run outside if you want. Join Free Customer Rewards Programs The trick here is to make sure that the rewards program is actually free. Some stores make you pay for their program, which I don’t think is usually worth it. But if it’s free and you can get access to great deals and coupons, then why not? If you hate the emails, then just create an email specifically for rewards programs. Make a List When you go to the store, make a list and stick to it! Don’t get distracted by fancy deals on products you don’t need or yummy food that isn’t good for you or your wallet. When you stick to your list, you only get things you need and save money! Drink More Water This may sound like a health tip, but it’s also a financial one! By drinking water more, you’ll cut things out like pop that can get pretty expensive (especially name brand). You’ll also be more full at dinner, which means you’ll eat less, which means you’ll spend less money on groceries! It’s a win-win!

Here are a Few Other Great Ways to Save Money or Supplement Your Income:

7 Serious Ways to Add $500 to Your Income

5 Ways to Save $500

22 Online Stores That Offer Free Shipping

50 Ways to Earn Extra Money on the Side

Top 54 Side Hustles to Make Extra Money on the Side

12 Surprising Ways to Save Money

8 Legit Ways to Make Money From Home

15 Legit Ways to Make an Extra $1500 a Month

25 Easy Ways to Save Money

How to Pay off Debt with a Debt Snowball

The debt snowball method is very motivating because you start to see results of your efforts quickly.  To get started, organize all the debts that you have from lowest balance to highest balance.  Ignore the interest rate at this point. Next, pay the minimum payment on each of your debts except the one with the lowest balance.  Pay as much extra as you can on the debt with the lowest balance.  Often, when people are trying to pay off debt, they pay a little bit extra on each account.  This doesn’t make as much sense long term.  We are trying to eliminate balances, and apply that payment to the next one. Once the first debt is completely paid off, take the payment plus the extra you were paying and apply it to the next smallest balance.  This feels so good to eliminate a debt, and move on to the next one!  It is easier to continue a hard thing when there are satisfying milestones along the way. So, at this point, you are paying the minimum payment, plus the minimum payment of the last card as well as the extra amount you were applying to that balance.  This snowballs fast and as you continue on this route, you will begin to pay your debts off faster than you had planned. Debt snowballs work wonders.  My husband and I paid off 16k in debt in a year and a half, making very little extra money.  We had to sacrifice a few things in order to have extra money to be able to apply in the first place.  We went out to eat once a month, instead of once a week.  We also ordered water and shared a larger meal.  We also cut out extra projects and found free or discounted things to do for entertainment. It required sacrifice and discipline, but ultimately, it was well worth it. It was very motivating and quite satisfying to pay each card off.  We started cerimoniously paying them off together and celebrating with dessert.

For other great ideas on getting out of debt or ways to budget, see these related articles:

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How to Pay off Debt with a Debt Snowball

12 Surprising Ways to Save Money

You don’t need to cut coupons or stop going out to eat in order to save money. While those are all good ideas, there may be other ways to cut your monthly expenses while still enjoying some of the things you like.  Some of these ideas might actually surprise you!

Shop Your Insurance

You can change your insurance carrier (in most cases) any time you want.  There is no contract with insurance so shop your rate!  I didn’t realize I was paying too much, until we decided to get other quotes and we were accepted by one of the very best auto insurances out there, and our premium was half of what we were paying.  That is a big savings!  You could be leaving money on the table by not shopping your rates.  Shop your car insurance rates, homeowners insurance rates, life insurance rates and any other policies that you may have out there.

Be Savvy

Once upon a time, we purchased a pergola for our outdoor patio.  We found one we loved and we didn’t even look around.  We had found our one and only and we paid for it and anxiously awaited it’s arrival.  Fast forward a year, and we see an identical pergola at an outdoor show.  For $3,000 less.  We spent thousands that we didn’t need to, by not shopping prices and getting quotes.  We are usually more savvy than that, so it took us both by surprise.  We blew it and it cost us thousands.  Don’t get impulsive and purchase based on emotion.  You will always pay more by going with the first option you find or not shopping around.  This goes for home decor, contractors (landscaping, plumbing, electrical, drywall, etc) and even purchases that you may not expect.  I am continually surprised to find out (thank you, husband!) that you can negotiate prices on many things that you wouldn’t expect.  Also, read reviews and be sure you are comparing apples with apples.

Beauty Budget

Cut the beauty budget!  I love getting my eyebrows waxed and tinted (I am a super blondie.) It is expensive and a recurring cost.  One trip to the beauty supply store, some Youtube videos and a few experimental eyebrows later… I do it at home, on my own time and it saves me money and time.  The few times I paid for it, it was $40+ and it took time, planning, babysitter for the kids, and it was a hassle. Pedicures are an extra expense that some may spend that can easily be cut out and done at home.

Subscriptions

Sometimes those 10$ a month subscriptions sneak up on you and add up.  I am not saying to cancel everything, but look over your expenses and see if there are subscriptions you can do without.  Magazines, gun clubs, Pandora (do the free version?) car wash passes, etc.  If you are trying to save money, it may be time to reduce the extras or see if you can do without things you are used to paying for.

DIY Items

Save money by making your own homemade products! You can do DIY soap, shaving cream, lotions, etc. Not only do you get customized products to your liking, but you also save money by making them at home.  Usually, these products are made with things you have at your home already.

Cut Coffee

This may be hard for you, but just imagine how much money you’re spending on coffee everyday. Let’s say you buy a cup of coffee for $4 at your local coffee store 5 days a week. That’s over $1,000 a year just on coffee! Cut coffee out (or at least partially) and you’ll see some extra cash coming in. *Dodging virtual tomatoes that are being thrown my way by the coffee addicts of the world.*

Community calendar

If you’re trying to find fun activities to do while also saving money, then turn to your community calendar. There are so many fun things in the community that are free.  Also, take advantage of “kids eat free on Tuesday” type of events or festivals that are free and entertaining.  Saving money doesn’t have to be a drag.  In fact, if you get creative you will probably go places and do things you wouldn’t have normally known about.  It is an adventure!

Treat yourself (sparingly)

We all get that itch to spend money.  While saving money is a good thing, and we should all be doing it, be careful about still allowing yourself to splurge once in a while.  Treat yourself every now and then so you don’t explode! Give yourself a small monthly allowance or implement another system so you spend money while still saying within budget.  If you budget for extras as much as possible, it will prevent binge spending and it will keep you from really blowing the budget after working hard to save.

Keep Utility Bills Lower

I don’t know what it is about children, but they are almost incapable of shutting a door (is this just my kids?) and we finally changed the hinges to our exterior doors to self-closing hinges.  This has helped a bunch with our AC bill in the summer.  You would be surprised how much money you can actually save if you use energy efficient bulbs in your home, keep doors closed and open windows to cool things off if you can.  Also, unplug unnecessary appliances or power cords, keep lights off, etc.  If you are consious about saving energy, you are doing not only the world a favor, but your pocketbook.  Don’t run unneccsary water and keep your blinds closed on hot days.  All of these things will help you keep your utilities lower and help you save money.

Library card

Instead of buying every book that you like, (thanks a lot, Amazon Prime) get a library card so you can read the books for free! Yes, Libraries are still out there and they are great!  How often do you go back and read the same books?  Almost never.

Shop Classifieds 

You can find a lot of the things you “want” or even “need” that are slightly used or in pretty good shape on the classifieds.  This can help satisfy the needs you have, while not costing a fortune.

Make Goals, Budget and Keep Focused

Ultimately, if you don’t make goals, you won’t know where you are headed.  If I can emphasize one thing on Flipping Pennies is that the most important thing in changing your financial situation is to set goals.  Be clear, specific and outline a path to get there.  Be realistic, but give yourself a reason to push you out of your comfort zone.  There is great strength and confidence that comes from self-control, working hard and reaching your milestones.

Sometimes, the answer is to make more money.  If you get creative, and are hard-working and resourceful, there is no shortage of side gigs or things you can do from home (on your own) to make money to ease the financial burden a bit.  Check out some of our articles about making extra money or working from home:

How to Make Money Blogging

How to Budget When You Don’t Make Enough Money

50 Ways to Earn Extra Money on the Side

Top 54 Side Hustles to Make Extra Money on the Side

8 Legit Ways to Make Money From Home

10 Ways to Earn a Living on the Internet

12 Surprising Ways to Save Money

How to Become an Amazon Product Reviewer

Set up your profile

You can’t become a product reviewer if you don’t have an account set up, right? So, get an Amazon account and then go to amazon.com/profile and you’ll go to your profile page. Keep this professional looking and up-to-date, because this is where people will go to contact you and see your reviews.

Join a reviewer website

There are a few out there that you can get involved in. iReviewHome and Reviewso are just a few. These websites get you access to products and promo codes that usually discount the item by 50-75%. You need to be a part of these sites because it gets your name and profile out there so you can have access to more deals and products.

Stay on top of your reviews

Don’t buy or get a product and then wait 2 months to put up a review. This sets a bad standard for your work and will also repel future companies from you that are looking for product reviewers. Usually a time span of about 2 weeks is ideal to get the product, use it enough, and then provide a decent and well-thought review.

Be Helpful!

Putting a star rating on Amazon and then just having text like, “it was good” or “it didn’t work as well as I thought it would” is not helpful! Tell them what you liked and didn’t like about the product, how you most effectively used it, and it what sort of situations it’s a good buy or bad buy. The more helpful you are, the more people who will follow your reviews, which means the more products companies will want you to try out for them.

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How to Become an Amazon Product Reviewer