Let’s face it—a side gig sounds like a dream come true. What’s not to love about being your own boss?
But if working for yourself is so awesome, why do so few take the plunge?
It makes sense. School taught you how to scribble notes and pass tests, not start a business.
And that uncertainty creates anxiety.
Picture yourself as a business owner. What would it look like?
If you’re like many, you saw flashes of expensive cars, meetings, and… nothing. Entrepreneurship is such a foreign experience that you don’t even know how to process it.
And that leads to the ultimate uncertainty—what if you fail?
What will others think if your business goes under? How will you feel about yourself? Will you be able to pay the bills?
Sound familiar? There are two antidotes to the uncertainty of entrepreneurship…
The next time you feel a twinge of fear, pause. What are you afraid of happening? What could go wrong? Maybe it’s something valid. Or likely, it’s something you can overcome. Train yourself to observe and question your fear. You’ll grow more and more confident taking calculated risks. You may even find yourself ready to start a part-time side hustle!
Facing uncertainty is far easier when you’re surrounded by support. Friends, family, and mentors can provide an emotional safety net should things go south. They can also offer wisdom and counsel that can mean the difference between success and failure.
Where do you stand on entrepreneurship? Do you want to start a business, but can’t see what it would look like?
If so, let’s chat. Consider me your sounding board for your anxieties about the transition from employee to entrepreneur. I can help you process your fears and flesh out a vision for your business.
You want to increase your income and be your own boss. Who doesn’t? You just need the practical know-how to overcome your fear and start the journey.
So turn off the YouTube videos and fire up Google Docs. Here’s how to choose the right side gig for you.
Step 1: List your hobbies. Passions make excellent side gigs. Why? Because they leverage skills you already have, and likely command your attention and interest. Those are critical ingredients for success.
It doesn’t matter how niche or strange your hobby might be. Write it down. In fact, the more oddball your interest, the more potential you may have more monetizing it.
Step 2: Evaluate the market. Simply put, can your skills solve a widespread problem? If so, then you have a potential client base at your fingertips.
Those problems may not seem obvious at first. But you will certainly be surprised by what people will pay for.
Not knowing how to play an instrument is a huge problem for music lovers.
Lacking time to decorate and organize is a huge problem for type A personalities.
Social Media illiteracy is a huge problem for older people starting small businesses.
All of those problems are opportunities to boost your income, if you have the skills to solve them. It just takes some time and creativity to identify problems.
Step 3: Size up the competition. But here’s the catch—there might be hundreds, or even thousands, of others seeking to solve the same problems as you. In fact, your competitors might have a stranglehold on your target market.
However, if your skills or niche are highly specific you could have a rare opportunity on your hands. You could eventually scale your side gig income to replace your day job!
This leads to a critical principle for deciding which side gig is right for you…
Opportunity lies at the intersection of high demand and low supply.
The more people demand a service, and the fewer competitors already providing it, the greater your likelihood of success.
There’s just one factor left to consider…
Step 4: Weigh costs against rewards. Starting a business requires a combination of time, effort, and money. No exceptions. The question is whether—and when—the rewards will outweigh the costs.
Starting a car manufacturing business? Good luck—you’ll require a huge amount of capital, and won’t see profits for years.
Refurbing curb-side furniture with tools and skills your grandpa left you? Hats off—your start up costs are almost zero, beyond some time and energy.
In summary, you want a side gig that…
• Aligns with your skills and passions
• Solves a major problem for many people
• Lacks competitors
• Offers high rewards with small costs
Which side gig fits that bill for you? Whatever it is, let’s chat about it. We can discuss what it would look like for you to start pursuing it today.
Your vision is your destiny.
If you envision a future of prosperity and abundance, congratulations! You’ve already taken your first step towards success.
But if you’re indifferent about what your future will look like, beware. You may be opening the door to subtle self-defeatism and disappointment.
This isn’t mysticism or pseudo-science. It’s (not so) common sense.
A vision for the future enables action. With an end destination, you can map out a course of action that will move you towards your goals. Furthermore, your vision can inspire you to keep pushing when you face obstacles or fears.
Without a vision, you’re a nomad wandering in an endless wilderness. No direction. No supplies. Just one fight-or-flight reaction after the other.
Soon, self-limiting and self-defeating beliefs crop up.
“This will never end.”
“This is pointless.”
You look into the future and see nothing but hardship, and so nothing but hardship comes your way.
Make no mistake—what you see is what you will get. If you don’t have a written vision statement, get out a pen and paper and write one out. I’ll wait!
Drawing a blank? You’ve come to the right place. In the next few days, I’ll be sharing a simple process for creating a vision statement. It may be the inspiration you need to build a better future for yourself and your family.
You walk out of the office like a brand new person.
That’s because you’ve done it—you’re going to be earning a lot more money with that raise. The first thing that pops in your head? All the fancy new things you can afford.
Dates. Your apartment. Vacation. They’re all going to be better now that you’ve got that extra money coming in.
And to be fair, all of those things CAN get substantially fancier after your income increases.
Why? Because your lifestyle became more extravagant as your income increased. Instead of using the boost in cash flow to build wealth, it all went to new toys.
This phenomenon is called “lifestyle inflation”. It’s why you might know people who earn plenty of money and have nice houses, but still seem to struggle with their finances. The greater the income, the higher the stress. As Biggie put it, “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems.”
The takeaway? The next time you get a raise, do nothing. Act like nothing has changed. Go celebrate at your favorite restaurant. Keep saving for your new treat. But you’ll thank yourself if you devote the lion’s share of your new income to either reducing debt or building wealth.
Rest assured, there will be plenty of time to enjoy the fruits of your labor in the future. But for now, keep your eyes on the most important prize—building wealth for you and your family’s future.
Without careful planning, your money will never go the distance for your retirement.
Well, unless you win the powerball or stumble upon buried treasure.
The simple fact is that retirement can last a long, long time and often be expensive. According to the Federal Reserve, the average American can expect a retirement of almost 20 years, requiring $1.2 million.¹
How long would it take you to save $1.2 million? Even if you could stash away your entire paycheck, it would likely take over a decade. Factor in the daily costs of living, and decades may become centuries.
Unless, of course, you leverage two simple strategies…
These are time-proven strategies that anyone can leverage. And they can mean the difference between your savings running out of steam or lasting as long as you do.
Compound interest can supercharge your savings. Instead of taking centuries, you have the potential to reach your retirement goals just in time!
That’s because compounding unleashes a virtuous cycle. The money you save grows on its own over time.
But here’s where the magic happens—the more money you have compounding, the greater its growth potential becomes. Even a fraction of your paycheck can eventually compound into the wealth you may need for retirement.
Think of it like changing gears on a bike. Savings alone is first gear—good enough for going down hills or casual jaunts through the neighborhood.
But for reaching greater goals, you need more power. Compound interest is those extra gears—it’s an advantage that can radically improve your performance.
The longer your money compounds, the greater potential it has for growth. To prove this, let’s crunch the numbers…
Let’s say you can save $500 per month. You find an account that compounds 10% annually.
After 20 years, you’ll have saved $120,000 and grown an additional $223,650 for a grand total of $343,650. Not bad!
But what if you wait another 11 years? Your money will more than triple—you’ll have $1,091,660!
The takeaway? A few years could be the difference between reaching your retirement goals and coming up short. The sooner you start, the greater potential you have to get where you want to go.
No more sporadic saving when you feel the panic. No more burying your head in the sand because you don’t know what the future holds. No more fear that your finances won’t cross the finish line.
These simple strategies can help you go the distance and retire with confidence. Contact me if you want to learn more about building wealth!
¹ “Retirement costs: Estimating what it costs to retire comfortably in every state,” Samuel Stebbins, USA Today, Feb 11, 2021, https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2021/02/11/retirement-costs-comfortable-in-every-state-life-expectancy/115432956/
The rarer the resource, the “wealthier” you are.
On a surface level, that definition conforms to the common stereotypes of wealth. Can we all agree that a stacked bank account is a rare and precious resource?
But dig a little deeper, and you’ll find that wealth takes many shapes and forms.
Your knack for finding the right word at the right time?
Your secret talent for creating with your hands?
Your indestructible support network that’s there for you, no matter what?
Those are all resources. Those are all rare. Those are all wealth. They just don’t have a dollar value… yet.
To be fair, you shouldn’t monetize all of your assets, especially if those assets are people. Leveraging your network for money is something that must be done with the utmost care and respect, if at all.
But the fact remains that you likely possess an abundance of resources that could be converted into increased cash flow. Your talents, your ability, and your time are all precious assets that have the potential to boost your income.
The takeaway? When you break it down, you’re wealthier than you may think. The real question is, how will you monetize the resources you’ve been given?
Automating your finances can take the pain out of wealth-building behavior.
You know how it goes. The thought flashes through your mind—”I need to start saving money!”
And then… well, that’s it. You read a few articles on saving and try to spend less, but after a week or two your mind has moved on.
Why? Because all forms of positive change are energy intensive, at least at first. And your brain, smart as it is, likes conserving energy.
So to jump-start saving, you need to take several one time actions that are borderline thoughtless.
It’s simple… • Log in to your online banking account • Set up a deposit • Choose to make the deposit recurring instead of one time
Like that, you’ve set the stage for dozens of wealth-building actions well into the future.
So what are you waiting for? Automate your savings right now. I’ll wait! Even if it’s $5 per month, it’s a step in the right direction—to build wealth for your future!
It’s official—Americans aren’t going back to work.
Even though there were 10 million job openings in June of 2021.¹
If you’ve been out and about, you’ve seen firsthand that jobs aren’t getting filled.
You may have noticed the signs at your local grocery store. Or the longer wait at your favorite restaurant. Or slower service from businesses you depend on.
They all stem from the same source. Americans aren’t rushing back to work.
But why? The COVID-19 pandemic caused mass unemployment and havoc for millions of American families. Wouldn’t they want to start earning money again, ASAP?
It’s not the unemployment benefits holding them back. For many, those dried up months ago, and the numbers still haven’t budged.²
And again, it’s not that there aren’t jobs. There are millions of opportunities out there!
Here’s an idea—many people have woken up to the fact that most jobs suck.
Most jobs leave you completely at the mercy of your boss. If they mismanage the business, your job’s in danger. If you want a bigger bonus, your job’s in danger. If another pandemic breaks out, your job’s in danger.
They give you no control over your hours, your income, your location, or your future.
Who would want to go back to that?
Instead, Americans are looking for a better opportunity. They want control of their future, their wealth, and their hours. They want to replace the insecurity of a 9 to 5 with more reliable sources of income.
If they see an opportunity that checks those boxes, they’ll be willing to re-enter the workforce.
Americans are looking for a better path. The million dollar question is, who will provide it for them?
¹ “Many Americans aren’t going back to work, but it’s not for the reason you might expect,” Paul Brandus, MarketWatch, Aug 14, 2021, https://www.marketwatch.com/story/many-americans-arent-going-back-to-work-but-its-not-for-the-reason-you-might-expect-11628772985
² “What states are ending federal unemployment benefits early? See who has cut the extra $300 a week,” Charisse Jones, USA Today, Jul 1, 2021, https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2021/07/01/unemployment-benefits-covid-federal-aid-ending-early-many-states/7815341002/
Starting your own business can be a challenge.
It will test your talents, your mental toughness, and your ability to adapt. And those tests—if you pass them—can spark extraordinary growth.
Here are four ways entrepreneurship will change you.
Entrepreneurs need to learn to solve their own problems, or fail. They don’t have a team to handle the daily grind of running a business.
Instead, new entrepreneurs handle everything from product development to accounting. It’s a stressful and high stakes juggling game.
But it can teach you a critical lesson: You’re far more resourceful than you thought. You’ll learn to stop waiting for help and start looking for solutions.
One of the downsides of entrepreneurship is that it may expose toxic people in your circle. They’re the ones who might…
▪ Mock your new career
▪ Feel threatened by your success
▪ Try to one-up you when you share struggles
As you and your business grow, you may need to limit your interactions with them. They might be too draining on your emotional resources to justify long-term relationships.
Rather, your circle should reflect values like positivity, encouragement, and inspiration. Those new friends will support you through the highs and lows of entrepreneurship.
Late nights, hard deadlines, and high stakes are the realities for entrepreneurs.
To cope, you must build a toolkit of skills that can carry you through the hardest times. Otherwise, you may crack under the pressure and lose any progress you’ve made.
It comes down to one key question: Why do you want to be an entrepreneur?
Are you driven by insecurity? Or by vision?
If you’re trying to prove a point to yourself or others with your business, you may fall apart at the first hint of failure.
If you’re driven by vision, you’ll see failure as part of the process.
Examine your motivations. Over time, you’ll grow more aware of your insecurities. Talk about them with your friends, families, and mentors. As you bring them into the light, you may find they have less and less power.
Entrepreneurship can spark an explosion of professional personal growth. You’ll grow up. You may start with an employee mindset, but you’ll mature into a leader. That’s how entrepreneurship will change you.
P.S. If this seems daunting, start with a side hustle. It can ease you into the role of entrepreneurship without throwing you into the deep end too soon!
Well, not exactly. But money CAN help remove stressors that impact your happiness.
A new study by Penn State University revealed that happiness increases with income. On the surface, that may appear obvious.
But in fact, people who equated their self-worth with money were LESS satisfied with their lives.
So it’s not the money itself that brings happiness.
Instead, money can provide security and freedom. It helps eliminate the fear of going without, and opens up choices for how to live your life.
Think of it as a foundation for investing in the things that matter most, like…
- Your relationships
- Your career
- Your life mission
If you only take one thing away from this article, let it be this…
Money itself isn’t the goal. It’s a tool to help you achieve your goals.
So keep your eyes on what matters most, like your family and mission. Then, take an inventory of ways money can help you safeguard and pursue the things you value. That’s how money can help you “buy” happiness.
Diversification is a key strategy for anyone who’s serious about building wealth.
That’s because no single source of income or wealth is perfect. They’re all subject to ups and downs, highs and lows.
Think of it like going to the golf range and handing the caddie an armful of drivers. You’ll make powerful drives every time, but what happens when it’s time to putt? Even worse, how will you escape bunkers?
It’s a classic case of too much of a good thing. If you’re a serious player and plan to play for the long run, your golf bag needs a variety of clubs—a few different irons, wedges, and putters—to handle whatever challenges you’ll face during the game.
-Different accounts that each leverage the power of compound interest.
-Income streams besides your main job.
-Savings that feature at least some protection against loss.
It’s not a silver bullet. But diversification can offer a layer of protection against the ups and downs of the economy. It can also provide you with supplemental income during lean times.
So how can you start diversifying today? Here are a few ideas…
This simple strategy can diversify your income sources. Regardless of what’s happening at your 9-to-5 job, you can count on your side hustle to help generate cash flow.
A licensed and qualified financial professional can help you implement diversification in your savings. This could make a huge difference in protecting your wealth from the ups and downs of a changing economy.
Contact me if you want to discover what this strategy would look like for you. We can review what you’ve saved thus far and check your opportunities for diversification.
“But what exactly is passive income?” they asked. A simple Google search revealed thousands of articles with a common theme—passive income is money you make while you sleep!
But is passive income really possible, or does it just live in the dreams of people looking for a way to make money without working?
To answer that question, let’s look at what passive income is (and isn’t). Then you can see if it will work for you!
Passive income, generally speaking, is a product or service that requires an upfront investment of time, effort, or wealth to create.
• Rental properties that require wealth to purchase, and are cared for by a property manager while creating rental income
• Books, music, and courses that required time and creativity to create and now generate income without regular upkeep
• Investing wealth in a business as a silent partner and taking a slice of their revenue
Can those income sources generate cash flow while you sleep? Of course! But notice that all of those opportunities require either work or resources that can only be acquired by work.
Does that mean you shouldn’t prioritize passive income sources? No! They can sometimes provide the financial stability you need.
Just don’t expect a passive income stream to effortlessly appear in your lap.
Remember, there is no such thing as free money. All wealth building opportunities require time, effort, and energy to reach their full potential.
If you want to learn more about creating passive income sources, contact me. We can review your talents, your situation, and your dreams to determine smart strategies for developing passive income.
But by definition, your job ceases to become your source of income once you retire.
Instead, you’ll need to tap into new forms of cash flow that, most likely, will need to be prepared beforehand.
Here are the most common sources of retirement income. Take note, because they could be critical to your retirement strategy.
Social Security. It’s simple—you pay into social security via your taxes, and you’re entitled to a monthly check from Uncle Sam once you retire. It’s no wonder why it’s the most commonly utilized source of retirement income.
Just know that social security alone may not afford you the retirement lifestyle you desire—the average monthly payment is only $1,543.¹ Fortunately, it’s far from your only option.
Retirement Saving Accounts. These types of accounts might be via your employer or you might have one independently. They are also popular options because they can benefit from the power of compound interest. The assumption is that when you retire, you’ll have grown enough wealth to live on for the rest of your life.
But they aren’t retirement silver bullets. They often are exposed to risk, meaning you can lose money as well as earn it. They also might be subject to different tax scenarios that aren’t necessarily favorable.
If you have a retirement savings account of any kind, meet with a licensed and qualified financial professional. They can evaluate how it fits into your overarching financial strategy.
Businesses and Real Estate. Although they are riskier and more complex, these assets can also be powerful retirement tools.
If you own a business or real estate, it’s possible that they can sustain the income generated by their revenue and rents, respectively, through retirement. Best of all, they may only require minimal upkeep on your part!
Again, starting a business and buying properties for income carry considerable risks. It’s wise to consult with a financial professional and find experienced mentorship before relying on them for retirement cash flow.
Part-time work. Like it or not, some people will have to find opportunities to sustain their lifestyle through retirement. It’s not an ideal solution, but it may be necessary, depending on your financial situation.
You may even discover that post-retirement work becomes an opportunity to pursue other hobbies, passions, or interests. Retirement can be about altering the way you live, not just having less to do.
You can’t prepare for retirement if you don’t know what to prepare for. And that means knowing and understanding your options for creating a sustainable retirement income. If unsure of how you’ll accomplish that feat, sit down with your financial professional. They can help you evaluate your position and create a realistic strategy that can truly prepare you for retirement.
¹ “How much Social Security will I get?” AARP, Jun 21, 2021, https://www.aarp.org/retirement/social-security/questions-answers/how-much-social-security-will-i-get.html#:~:text=The%20amount%20you%20are%20entitled,2021%20is%20%241%2C543%20a%20month.
Nearly every choice you make precludes something else that might have been.
Opportunity cost exists in everything from relationships to finances to career choices, but here we’ll focus on that last one. Over a lifetime, the cost of career decisions can be massive.
The math. For opportunity costs that can be measured, usually in dollars, there’s even a math equation.
Return on opportunity A / Return on opportunity B = Opportunity cost¹
Let’s say you have two career choices. One is to work as a mechanic at $50 per hour and the other is to work as a karate instructor at $20 per hour.
Opportunity A / Opportunity B = Opportunity cost
Here it is with numbers: $50 / $20 = $2.50
To translate that, for every $1 you earn as a karate instructor, you could have earned $2.50 as a mechanic. The ratio remains the same whether it’s for one hour worked or 1,000 hours worked because it’s based on earnings per hour.
Adding a time element. We can only work a certain number of hours in a week and we can only work for a certain number of years in a lifetime. Adding time into the discussion doesn’t change the math relationship between the opportunities but it does recognize real-world constraints. Sometimes these limits are by choice. You could be both a full-time mechanic and a full-time karate instructor, but most people don’t want to work 80 hours per week. Something has to give, and that’s where considering opportunity cost comes in.
If you only want to work 40 hours in a week, you’ll have to choose one career over the other or split your time between the two. But even in splitting your time, there is an opportunity cost. Think about it like this: Every hour spent in a lower paying job costs money if you had an opportunity to earn more doing something else.
The bigger picture. In our example using the mechanic vs. the karate instructor, the difference in annual income is over $60,000 per year ($104,000 minus $41,600). Over a 40-year working career, the difference in earnings is nearly $2.5 million, and it all happened one hour at a time.
Life balance. Your career choice shouldn’t just be about money – you should do something you enjoy and that gives you satisfaction. There may be several other considerations as well – like opportunity to travel, the kind of people you work with, and the greater contribution you can make to the world. However, if there are two choices that meet all your criteria but one pays a bit more, just do the math!
¹ “How to Calculate Opportunity Cost for Each Business Decision,” Brex, Oct 26, 2021, https://www.brex.com/blog/how-to-calculate-opportunity-cost/
But not all goals are created equal. Planning to win the lottery is a foolish objective that won’t help you fulfill your dreams. Spending hours clipping coupons worth a few dollars is probably a waste of time.
Fortunately, establishing proper goals is actually incredibly straightforward. You want to pursue objectives that are SMART—specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. Formulating these types of goals can radically focus your energy and increase your ability to get things done. Let’s start with the first criteria!
Specific. The more specific your goal, the more clearly you’ll understand exactly what you need to do to achieve it. It’s the difference between a vague daydream and a solid plan.
When writing out your financial goals, be crystal clear on exactly what you want to accomplish and why. Outline the steps and people needed to bring about your vision. Something like “I want to make more money” becomes “I want to earn a raise at work by taking on more responsibility.”
Measurable. How will you know if you’ve accomplished, exceeded, or failed your goal? Including a clear metric gives you insight into how close or far you are from completing your objective.
Decide on a clear numeric goal you can shoot for. Take a vague notion like “I want to save more money” and transform it into “I want to save 15% of my income this year for retirement.” You’ll have a clearer idea of what steps you need to take to meet that benchmark and feel a deep sense of reward once you hit the target.
Achievable. Trying to attain an ill-defined, pie-in-the-sky goal will only lead to crazy behavior, incredible discouragement, or both. If you’re aiming for something huge (which is admirable), break it down into mini goals and focus on one at a time. Achieving a goal like “I want to start a multi-million dollar business” takes careful planning, a lot of research, and loads of help, but there are many, many people in the world who have done just that. How do you eat an elephant? (One bite at a time!)
Relevant. Are your goals appropriate? That seems like an obvious question, but it’s a critical one to ask when establishing objectives. For instance, saving up $1,000 so you can buy your new niece a Swarovski crystal, gold-plated baby rattle (yes, that’s a real thing) might be really memorable, but do you have an emergency fund in place? Make sure you’re meeting those practical, basic financial goals before you start aiming for the non-essential ones.
Time-sensitive. Knowing that the clock is ticking is one of the most powerful motivators on the planet. You’ll want to establish a realistic time-frame, but deciding that you want to buy a house in two years or be debt free in six months can increase your intensity, narrow your focus, and inspire you to start working on your goals as soon as possible!
Do your financial goals meet these criteria? If not, don’t sweat it! Spend 15 minutes reviewing your objectives and work in specific details or break down some of your more ambitious targets. Remember, I’m here to help if you hit a financial goal roadblock and need some professional insight and clarity!
Americans spend about 34% of their income on servicing their mortgages, car loans, and, of course, credit cards.¹
Assuming a household income of $68,703, that translates to roughly $23,359 going down the drain each and every year.²
Obviously, converting that money from debt maintenance to wealth building would be a dream come true for most Americans. But there’s more at stake here than retirement strategies.
The true cost of debt is your peace of mind.
Take the example from above. A third of your income is going towards debt and the rest is split up between everyday living and transportation expenses. You feel you can make ends meet as long as the money keeps coming in.
But what happens if a recession causes massive layoffs? Or if a pandemic shuts down the economy for months?
The sad fact is that the hamster wheel of debt prevents a huge chunk of Americans from saving enough to cover even a brief window of unemployment, let alone a shutdown!
That lack of financial security can have serious repercussions, including bankruptcy. And feeling like you’re always one unexpected emergency away from a financial crisis can result in a myriad of mental health issues. Numerous studies have shown that high levels of debt increase anxiety, depression, anger, and even divorce.³
Conquering debt isn’t about changing numbers on a page. It’s about reclaiming your peace. It’s about securing financial stability for you and your family. Your income is a powerful tool if you can protect it from lenders.
If you’re stressed about debt and seeking some relief, let me know. We can review your situation together and come up with a game plan that will recover the financial security that’s rightfully yours.
¹ “Study: Americans Spend One-Third of Their Income on Debt,” Maurie Backman, The Ascent, Mar 6, 2020, https://www.fool.com/the-ascent/credit-cards/articles/study-americans-spend-one-third-of-their-income-on-debt/#:~:text=And%20recent%20data%20from%20Northwestern,feel%20guilty%20about%20their%20predicament
² “Income and Poverty in the United States: 2019,” Jessica Semega, Melissa Kollar, Emily A. Shrider, and John Creamer, United States Census Bureau, Sept 15, 2020, https://www.census.gov/library/publications/2020/demo/p60-270.html#:~:text=Median%20household%20income%20was%20%2468%2C703,and%20Table%20A%2D1)
³ “The Emotional Effects of Debt,” Kristen Kuchar, The Simple Dollar, Oct 28, 2019, https://www.thesimpledollar.com/credit/manage-debt/the-emotional-effects-of-debt/?/186
A low score can saddle you with anything from high interest rates, difficulty scoring important loans, or poor employability!¹
But what exactly is a credit score? And how is it different from a credit report? It turns out the two have a close relationship. Let’s explore what they are and how they relate to each other.
Credit Report. Your credit report is simply a record of your credit history. Let’s break that down.
Many of us carry some form of debt. It might be a mortgage, student loans, or credit card debt (or all three!). Some people are really disciplined about paying down debt. Others fall on hard times or use debt to fuel frivolous spending and then aren’t able to return the borrowed money. As a result, lenders typically want to know how reliable, or credit worthy, someone is before giving out a loan.
But predicting if someone will be able to pay off a loan is tricky business. Lenders can’t look into the future, so they have to look at a potential borrower’s past regarding debt. They’re interested in late payments, defaulted loans, bankruptcies, and more, to determine if they can trust someone to pay them back. All of this information is compiled into a document that we know as a credit report.
Credit Score. All of the information from someone’s credit report gets plugged into an algorithm. It’s goal? Rate how likely they are to pay back their creditors. The number that the algorithm spits out after crunching the numbers on the credit report is the credit score. Lenders can check your score to get an idea of whether (or not) you’ll be able to pay them back.
Think of a credit report like a test and the credit score as your grade. The test contains the actual details of how you’ve performed. It’s the record of right and wrong answers that you’ve written down. The grade is just a shorthand way to evaluate your performance.
So are credit reports and credit scores the same thing? No. Are they closely related? Yes! A bulletproof credit report will lead to a higher credit score, while a report plagued by late payments will torpedo your final grade. And that number can make all the difference in your financial well-being!
¹ “The Side Effects of Bad Credit,” Daniel Kurt, Investopedia, Jun 11, 2021, https://www.investopedia.com/the-side-effects-of-bad-credit-4769783
It’s in style; and it makes sense—and cents? Gigs are now just a click or tap away on most of our devices, and a little extra money never hurts! Here are a few things to consider when starting up a side hustle.
What are your side hustle goals? We typically think of a side hustle as being an easy way to score a little extra cash. But they can sometimes be gateways into bigger things. Do you have skills that you’d like to develop into a full time career? A passion that you can turn into a business? Or do you just need some serious additional income to pay down debt? These considerations can help you determine how much time and money you invest into your gig and what gigs to pursue.
What are your marketable skills? Some gigs don’t require many skills beyond a serviceable car and a driver’s license. But others can be great outlets for your hobbies and skills. Love writing? Start freelancing on your weekends. Got massive gains from hours at the gym and love the outdoors? Start doing moving jobs in your spare time. You might be surprised by the demand for your passions!
Keep it reasonable. Burnout is no joke. Some people thrive on 80 hour work weeks between jobs and side hustles, but don’t feel pressured to bite off more than you can chew. Consider how much you’re willing to commit to your gigs and don’t exceed that limit.
One great thing about side hustles is their flexibility. You choose your level of commitment, you find the work, and your success can depend on how much you put in. Consider your goals and inventory your skills to get there—and start hustling!
It’s not just a budget. In fact, a solid financial strategy is not entirely based on numbers at all. Rather, it’s a roadmap for your family’s financial future. It’s a journey on which you’ll need to consider daily needs as well as big-picture items. Having a strategy makes it possible to set aside money now for future goals, and help ensure your family is both comfortable in the present and prepared in the future.
Financial Strategy, Big Picture. A good financial strategy covers pretty much everything related to your family’s finances. In addition to a snapshot of your current income, assets, and debt, a strategy should include your savings and goals, a time frame for paying down debt, retirement savings targets, ways to cover taxes and insurance, and in all likelihood some form of end-of-life preparations. How much of your strategy is devoted to each will depend on your age, marital or family status, whether you own your home, and other factors.
Financial Preparation, Financial Independence. How do these items factor into your daily budget? Well, having a financial strategy doesn’t necessarily mean sticking to an oppressive budget. In fact, it may actually provide you with more “freedom” to spend. If you’re allocating the right amount of money each month toward both regular and retirement savings, and staying aware of how much you have to spend in any given time frame, you may find you have less daily stress over your dollars and feel better about buying the things you need (and some of the things you want).
Remember Your Goals. It can also be helpful to keep the purpose of your hard-earned money in mind. For example, a basic financial strategy may include the amount of savings you need each month to retire at a certain age, but with your family’s lifestyle and circumstances in mind. It might be a little easier to skip dinner out and cook at home instead when you know the reward may eventually be a dinner out in Paris!
Always Meet with a Financial Professional. There are many schools of thought as to the best ways to save and invest. Some financial professionals may recommend paying off all debt (except your home mortgage) before saving anything. Others recommend that clients pay off debt while simultaneously saving for retirement, devoting a certain percentage of income to each until the debt is gone and retirement savings can be increased. If you’re just getting started, meet with a qualified and licensed financial professional who can help you figure out which option is for you.
But that doesn’t stop “budget” from being an intimidating word to many people. Some folks may think it means scrimping on everything and never going out for a night on the town. It doesn’t! Budgeting simply means that you know where your money is going and you have a way to track it.
The aim with budgeting is to be aware of your spending, plan for your expenses1, and make sure you have enough saved to pursue your goals.
Without a budget, it can be easy for expenses to climb beyond your ability to pay for them. You break out the plastic and before you know it you’ve spent fifty bucks on drinks and appetizers with the gang after work. These habits might leave you with a lot of accumulated debt. Plus, without a budget, you may not be saving for a rainy day, vacation, or your retirement. A budget allows you to enact a strategy to help pursue your goals. But what if you’ve never had a budget? Where should you start? Here’s a quick step-by-step guide on how to get your budgeting habit off the ground!
Track your expenses every day. Start by tracking your expenses. Write down everything you buy, including memberships, online streaming services, and subscriptions. It’s not complicated to do with popular mobile and web applications. You can also buy a small notebook to keep track of each purchase. Even if it’s a small pack of gum from the gas station or a quick coffee at the corner shop, jot it down. Keep track of the big stuff too, like your rent and bill payments.
Add up expenses every week and develop categories. Once you’ve collected enough data, it’s time to figure out where exactly your paycheck is going. Start with adding up your expenses every week. How much are you spending? What are you spending money on? As you add your spending up, start developing categories. The goal is to organize all your expenses so you can see what you’re spending money on. For example, if you eat out a few times per week, group those expenses under a category called “Eating Out”. Get as general or as specific as you wish. Maybe throwing all your food purchases into one bucket is all you need, or you may want to break it down by location - grocery store, big box store, restaurants, etc.
Create a monthly list of expenses. Once you’ve recorded your expenses for a full month, it’s time to create a monthly list. Now you might also have more clarity on how you want to set up your categories. Next, total each category for the month.
Adjust your spending as necessary. Compare your total expenses with your income. There are two possible outcomes. You may be spending within your income or spending outside your income. If you’re spending within your income, create a category for savings if you don’t have one. It’s a good idea to create a separate savings category for large future purchases too, like a home or a vacation. If you find you’re spending too much, you may need to cut back spending in some categories. The beauty of a budget is that once you see how much you’re spending, and on what, you’ll be able to strategize where you need to cut back.
Keep going. Once you develop the habit of budgeting, it should become part of your routine. You can look forward to working on your savings and developing a retirement strategy, but don’t forget to budget in a little fun too!
¹Jeremy Vohwinkle, “Make a Personal Budget in 6 Steps: A Step-by-Step Guide to Make a Budget,” The Balance (May 15, 2021).