Set Goals to Create Additional Streams of Income

The following post is by MPFJ staff writer, Chonce. You can read more articles by Chonce over at her personal blog, My Debt Epiphany. Enjoy! 

How many streams of income do you have? When my husband got laid off early last year, we realized that one stream of income just won’t cut it anymore.

Diversifying your income can provide you with more financial security which is why it’s a great idea to set goals to create additional streams of income this year.

Why You Need More Income Streams

Most millionaires have an average of 7 different streams of income. Whether you’re trying to be a millionaire or not, you can probably agree that the more income you have coming in from various different sources, the more financially secure you’ll be.

When my husband got laid off, he lost his entire income in one fatal swoop. Luckily, I was working at the time and freelancing on the side with more than 10+ different clients. It was safe to say that by me having multiple streams of income, it really helped up get through that rough patch.

Income diversification can not only help you feel more stable, it can also allow you to meet your other financial goals quicker and allow you to earn more money over time as well.

Here are a few ways to diversify your income this year.

Start Freelancing

If you can provide a service to others on the side of your full-time job, it can be a great way to create an additional stream of income. There are so many different ways to freelance whether you like to write, edit, design graphics, take photos, do customer service or data entry work and so on.

The best part about freelancing is that you can choose your own clients to work with and set your own rates and hours. You don’t have to work an extra 30 hours per week if you don’t want to or know you won’t have the energy. Once you build your network and start finding clients, you can maintain as little or as much work as you want.

If you want to perform the tasks you do at your day job on the side for others as well, that’s an option as long as your employer is okay with it. For example, if you work at a daycare and want to offer some of the parents babysitting services on weekends, as long as your employer is fine with it, you can earn some extra money that way.

I used to take my son to a child care center that allowed that and parents like me were relieved since the center was closed during evenings and weekends.

Back when I worked at a web design firm, I used to think about how much the graphic designers and programmers I worked with could have earned if they did a few freelance projects on the side.

A graphic designer can easily earn an extra $1,000 per month by taking on only 1-2 extra projects on the side.

Sell a Product

Want to sell a product your created or a product on the market that you believe in? Consider this semi-passive way to diversify your income.

If you like to create handmade products and goods, consider setting up an Etsy shop and selling your items online. You can also design t-shirts to sell, create an e-book, flip used items for profit by selling them on sites like Amazon and Ebay.

I knew a blogger who wanted to pay off her student loans so bad that she started buying gently used designer clothing at thrift stores for cheap then selling them online for a profit.

As another option, you can sell products through a direct sales company so you can earn commission from each sale. Companies like Avon, Stella and Dot, Beach Body and Premier Designs, are all great options but there are tons of direct sales companies out there depending on what you’re interested in.

You can show your product catalogs to family, friends, and coworkers and make extra money that way.

Invest

Investing is a great way to diversify your income by creating passive income streams. You can invest in the stock market or in peer-to-peer lending.

You can also invest in real estate. Crowdfunded real estate will allow you to share the costs of investing in commercial and residential properties if you don’t want to purchase a property entirely on your own.

However, if you do purchase a small home or condo, you can earn money each month by renting it out and allow your tenants to pay off the mortgage for you.

Start Brainstorming With This Master List of 20+ Ideas

As you can see, there are quite a few options for diversifying your income this year. Below, I’ve compiled a list of specific ways that you can create additional streams of income. With these ideas, you shouldn’t even consider having one job or a single income stream a possibility anymore.

  • Babysit
  • Offer a cleaning service
  • Buy a rental property
  • Drive for Uber or Lyft
  • Rent out your car when you’re not using it with Turo
  • Rent out your home or a property with Airbnb
  • Write an ebook that helps a specific target audience solve a problem
  • Start a blog and monetize it
  • Sell your crafts and creations on Etsy
  • Design T-shirts via Tee Spring to sell online
  • Become a freelance writer
  • Become a virtual assistant
  • Become a freelance photographer
  • Sell your images to stock photo websites
  • Sell clothes or books online
  • Tutor students online or in your community
  • Invest in the stock market by building a dividend portfolio
  • Flip a house
  • Become a peer lender
  • Buy website domain names then resell them online
  • Host direct sales parties

How about you all? How will you create additional streams of income this year?

Share your experiences by commenting below!

****Photo courtesy https://www.flickr.com/photos/striatic/101594790/

Buying a Rental Property for Cash Flow

for-rent-my-personal-finance-journeyThe following post is by MPFJ staff writer, Jeff. Jeff has been writing online about finance related issues since 2009, and after a lot of soul searching in 2015 has crystallized his goal of financial independence and blogs about his journey to freedom at zerotofi.co

Recently after a few life changes, I started making changes to my investment strategy. I have gone head first into the rental property market, and have closed on my first 4 unit building. I was able to learn a ton during this process, and would like to show you how to properly analyze a rental property to make sure that you don’t end up losing your shirt. Some people think it’s just as easy as collecting rent and paying the mortgage (not likely) and some think its going to be awful with maintenance issues and other problems left, right and center and you’ll lose your shirt (also, possible, but not highly likely). When looking into a rental property, here are a few things you need to account for to determine cash flow.

Lets assume you have a rental property that is a single family house, renting for 1,500 per month. Here is how you should analyze to make sure you’re not going to get caught with your pants down.

Vacancy Reserves

The unit isn’t going to have people in it the day after the prior group moved out, is it? Most likely not. It may take a few weeks or a month or 2 to fill it. You’ll need to make sure you have reserves for this. Many investors use 7-10% of the rental price. Since I like easy math, we will use 10%, for a final number of 150/mo for vacancies.

Capital Expenses Reserves

Shortened to CapEx frequently, this is a reserve set aside for big ticket replacements. A new fence, a new roof, new furnace, new water heater, etc. 7-10% of the rental price is common here as well. Since we like our math easy, we will use 10%, for 150/mo.

Property Management

You may self manage because you live at the place early on, but will that always be the case? You’ll want to build in for property management as well, when your life changes. 10% (again) is common here, $150.

Since this is a single family home, the tenants will take care of the water, sewer, and electric and gas bills. Any other things (such as upkeep, snow shoveling, etc) can either be done by the tenants or the property manager.

If you’re just looking to get started with rental real estate, don’t just think that if you earn more in rent than the mortgage, taxes and interest (Sometimes abbreviated as PITI) that you’ve got a good investment. The first blown furnace you’ve got will cause you major problems and really hamper whatever cashflow you may have.

How about you all? Are you interested or are you currently investing in real estate?

Share your experiences by commenting below!

***Photo courtesy https://www.flickr.com/photos/blapp/5802137177/

Important Financial Moves You Can Make in 2015

financial-moves-money-my-personal-finance-journeyThis following is a post by MPFJ staff writer, Jeff. Jeff writes about sustainable living and finances at his website, Sustainable Life Blog. Jeff really enjoys traveling with his wife as much as he can, to wherever he can.

It’s a new year again, and it’s time to prepare yourself financially and get the rest of your life in order. While many have their goals figured out and are midway through the point where they’ll eventually fail, you can make your financial goals different this year.  When you look back on 2015 in December, you can be happy with your progress.

Here are a few things you should do to make the most (financially) out of your 2015:

Increase your retirement contribution by at 10% or more

Last year, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to max out my Roth IRA account, but I knew I wanted to contribute more than I had in 2013. After talking it over with my dad, he suggested increasing my contribution by 10%. The amount doesn’t seem like much, but it made a big difference.  That small monthly increase led to another 10% increase midway through the year, and things just kept rolling.

I was given some money for Christmas, and I used that to max out my Roth for 2014 – the first time in a few years I had been able to do that, since I had been paying off some debt previously.

So, for those of you looking to increase contributions to your retirement accounts (401k, IRAs or 457’s/403b’s) but are not bumping up against the government maximum for the year, consider increasing your contribution by at least 10-15% per paycheck.

Typically, it does not amount to much more than skipping one meal out per week, but the benefits at the end of the year are substantial.

Lower Your Monthly Nut

Lowering your monthly expenses is critical to increasing your cash flow and your savings. I spent most of 2013 working on lowering my monthly nut, and it allowed me to do some things that I probably wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise (like absorb a 1500+/mo cash hit).

In late 2013, I spent a day gathering all of the monthly bills for the family, and then spent the next 3 weeks researching how to lower each and every bill. I started with the big ones like home and car insurance, then moved on to smaller ones, such as cable TV, internet, and cell phones.

Even though you may only be saving $10-$25 per month on some of this stuff, it can really add up over the course of a year. We were able to reduce our monthly expenses from above $2200 to below $1500, just by making a few phone calls.

So in 2015, take a look at your bills and figure out how to lower them – even if it’s just by $10 per month. You’ll save yourself $120/year, and be happy you did.

Pro tip: If you want to lower your phone bill, look into Ting or Republic Wireless. If you want to tackle cable TV or internet, here’s a script to use when you call.

Establish a New Money Routine

This is what I’ll be focusing on primarily in 2015 – changing my money habits.

After looking at the data, it seems as though I can go Monday to Friday without spending a dime, then I’ll spend $100-$200 on the weekends. Of course, some of this is groceries so it’s not all bad, but it seems as though I’ve gone into a pattern where I save all my “pent up” spending for the weekend.

So, in an effort to lower that number, I’m going to do two things:

  1. Set a budget of $500 per month for all non monthly nut related things (for me, that includes gas and groceries), and;
  2. Extend my “no spend weekdays” by 1 day, and make Saturday a day where I don’t spend any money.

I’m hoping this will lower my total spending for the month, and help kick start me to a better habit.

What about you all? What money moves are you planning on making in 2015? Do you have other money-saving tips you found successful and would like to share with us?

Feel free to leave your comments below!

**Photo courtesy http://www.flickr.com/photos/cooperweb/8363160192/

The Best Ways to Ask Your Boss For a Raise

ask-your-boss-for-a-raise-my-personal-finance-journeyThe following is a post by MPFJ staff writer, Kevin Mercadante, who is a freelance professional personal finance blogger for hire, and the owner of his own personal finance blog, OutOfYourRut.com. He has backgrounds in both accounting and the mortgage industry.

For a lot of people, one of the most difficult work related tasks is having to ask your boss for a raise. Though it should be something easy to do if you feel that you absolutely deserve one, it’s usually a tense situation. In no small part, this is due to the fact that there is a built-in reluctance on the part of employers to give raises. After all, the more an employer pays a staff member, the less profit that will be available in the budget.

One of the best ways to ask your boss for a raise is be prepared in advance. Doing so can stack the deck in your favor, and make it less difficult to pull off. Before you ask for a raise, try some of the following steps.

Research Your Market Value

Unless your job classification is very unique, the job market largely determines how much your employer is paying you, and how much they may be willing to increase your pay. This is all about defining your market value as an employee, and that’s all about determining how much you make in relation to other people in similar positions.

There are various web based information sources on salary levels, but the most comprehensive is the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Employment Statistics website. The BLS is an agency of the US Government, and not only does the site provide salary ranges for nearly every job classification in existence, but it also provides specific regional salary statistics. This is important because for example, an accountant is likely to earn more in New York City than in Nashville.

If you are on the lower end of the salary range for your job classification in your geographic location, you’ll have more room to ask for a raise. But if you are at the higher end of the range, you need to tread lightly. Your employer has access to the same information, and could use your request for a raise as an opportunity to remind you that you’re at the top of the salary scale.

The BLS site also provides ten-year growth projections for each career classification. This information is not to be underestimated. The greater the future demand for your job, the more flexibility you will have in asking for a raise.

Figure Your Employer’s Financial Position Into the Mix

You also need to consider what your employer’s financial position is at time you’re asking for a raise. If the company is losing money and cutting staff, asking for a raise may be a difficult proposition at best.
If you are on the lower end of the pay range for your job classification, you may still be able to get a raise even if your employer is not prospering. But here’s where you will need to do some careful analysis. As yourself the following questions:

  • How important is your position to your employer’s overall operation?
  • How well are you performing on your job? Can you objectively rate yourself as a high performer, a medium level performer – or something less?
  • How difficult or desirable would it be for your employer to replace you?
  • Would your getting a raise put your employer in a difficult position with other employees?
  • How much do you like working for your current employer, and would you be willing to make a move if you don’t get a raise?

If you are a key employee at your company, you are a top performer, and you are well below the top range for your career in your location, you can still ask for a raise. But if your answers to a few of the questions above are generally negative, you’ll want to use caution.

Document Your Accomplishments

It’s unfortunate that many employers do a much better job in documenting your mistakes and blunders than your accomplishments. And that’s why you need to be prepared to step in and fill the void.

Seriously, this is a step you cannot leave to chance. Asking for a raise is very much a negotiation process. While you’re asking for the raise, your employer is pushing back and trying to justify why you shouldn’t be given one, or given one that’s less than what you’re asking for. You’ll need to be fully “armed” for that outcome.

You should literally have a file that includes positive past job reviews, commendation letters, and any other examples of outstanding work. If you are in either a production position or have budget authority, you should be fully prepared with hard numbers that document your statistical improvements.

You don’t need to pull these out early in the negotiations, but rather to have them available just in case things don’t go your way. If your employer resists giving you’re a raise, citing your performance as an issue, you’ll be ready with evidence that tells a better story.

Remember That It’s Business, not Personal

It’s very difficult not to get emotional when asking for a raise. After all, you’re asking your employer for an improvement in your compensation, and that’s a true “gut issue”. Be that as it may, you have to do your best to keep your emotions out of the picture. No matter how personal it truly is, it really is a business negotiation.

It’s best to be as cordial and respectful as possible in approaching your boss about a raise. You should always want to stick to the facts – as provided based on the research you have done in the steps above – and to avoid emotional generalities.

You should also fully expect some form of resistance. If you don’t get any, great! But if you do, you’ll be prepared. As noted above, your employer will have their own reasons for wanting to limit your income. Your job will be to prove – based on the facts – that their conclusion is incorrect. But in the process, keep in mind that you are merely asking for an increase in pay, and not attempting to justify your existence on the payroll. That means do your best to reasonably promote yourself, but avoid getting defensive at all costs.

You want to make sure that your request proceeds as a friendly negotiation, and doesn’t spill over into the realm of conflict. Make it clear that you are both on the same side, that the raise will help you to do your job better and to increase your performance.

Also be fully prepared to be flexible. If you’re asking for a 10% raise, and your employer counters with 5%, be ready to meet in the middle. This isn’t about winning, but about getting yourself a better compensation package.

Have a Strategy Just in Case the Outcome is Negative

Despite your best efforts, your request may still be denied. At that point you’ll need to determine whether you will be able to continue on with the employer knowing that your pay will not be increased. And that will depend on whether or not there are better alternatives with other employers.

The strength of your negotiations will rest largely on you knowing that information beforehand. If your career field is in strong demand, in you’re at the lower end of the pay scale, you’ll have the confidence of knowing that you have other alternatives going into the meeting with your boss. That confidence will likely come through, and could win the day for you. But if it doesn’t, you will have to be prepared to go elsewhere.

Should you decide instead to stay on with your employer and make a request at a later date, you will have to be certain that the denied raise doesn’t negatively affect your attitude. No matter what, continue to do your best work! This will be important on two fronts:

  1. Continuing strong performance will put you in a better position to ask for a raise again at a later date, and
  2. It will make it easier for you to find a position with another employer, since your performance will likely get you a favorable reference from your current employer.

There are risks to asking for a raise. If you should carefully consider those risks, and prepare for them in advance, not only will you have a better chance of getting the raise that you want, but you’ll be able to do it with more confidence.

How about you all? Do you struggle at the thought of asking for a raise? Have you tried asking for a raise in the past?

Share your experiences by commenting below!

**Photo courtesy of https://www.flickr.com/photos/usdagov/14605147054/sizes/n/

Improving Your Small Business Cash Flow

 

The following is a guest post. Enjoy! 

Improving Your Small Business Cash Flow
Every small business owner is looking to improve their cash flow. This can be tough, especially if your business relies on invoicing customers, and then following up on the accounts receivable each month to make sure that payment has been made.  And, as your business and the amount of invoices grow, it will become harder to maintain, and sometimes, harder to collect.  That is where invoice factoring can come into play.

What is Invoice Factoring?

Invoice factoring is where a business sells its accounts receivable (i.e. invoices) to a third-party company at a discount to what is owed.  That company, however, provides the discounted amount of money up front, similar to a cash advance, with the collateral being the outstanding invoices.  There is also maturity factoring, where the cash isn’t provided up front, but instead, payment is paid on the average maturity date of the invoices on the purchased receivables.

How Does Invoice Factoring Work?

Invoice factoring is very different than getting a traditional bank loan because a bank looks at the value of the entire company before making a lending decision.  This can sometimes be hard for a small business or start-up, because there is not always a lot of data to make the banks happy.  However, with factoring, the amount paid is based on the value of the receivables, and it is not a loan.  The factoring company will actually purchase the financial assets that are the outstanding invoices in the accounts receivable.  The factoring company will then make money by the difference between the value of the receivables versus what it paid the business, as well as any commissions or fees charged.

Is It Right For You?

Invoice factoring can be a good solution to many businesses who have a lot of outstanding invoices and need cash flow now.  By selling the receivables, you can get that cash now to continue building your business, and basically let someone else deal with the invoices.

How about you all? Has your business ever used invoice factoring? If so, did it work pretty smoothly?


Share your experiences by commenting below!

***Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/23024164@N06/7222346312/sizes/l/in/photostream/