How to Make Money With Online Stock Trading

This post is sponsored by Blue Anchor, but all opinions are my own.

Most of us have heard of online stock trading, but to many, including myself, it seems too intimidating to even begin learning about. Well, my friends, it is time to change that.

Online trading is nothing to be afraid of. Like any investment, it has some risk, but it also offers a lot of opportunity to make money.

If you are at the point in your financial journey where you are ready to begin investing in the stock market, online trading can be a great option for you. Whether you’re looking to just cushion your monthly budget, save heavily for retirement, become a full-time trader, or enjoy a little bit of extra liquidity, online trading is something to consider.

In order to avoid any costly mistakes, you need to be sure to do adequate research to ensure you will walk out profitable. Here are a few things to consider when diving into the world of online trading.

Part or Full Time?

First, it’s important to decide whether you want to trade in your spare time or if you are looking for a full-time position. In most cases, it is better to begin slowly. Don’t forget that it will take a considerable amount of time to learn the nuances of the markets. Rushing into things too quickly increases the chance of a costly mistake. Have a game plan and stick to it. If you do choose to trade full-time, be sure that you are prepared for losses which will inevitably occur periodically.

Know Your Sector

Online trading encompasses a wide range of underlying assets to choose from. A handful of examples here will include:

  • Currencies
  • Commodities
  • Indexes
  • Treasuries
  • Stocks

Specific sectors may be slated to perform better than others during a certain time period. For instance, some claim that the dollar is set to rise while the euro and the pound will remain sluggish. Once a specific asset is adopted, it is best to focus upon both its technical and fundamental aspects in order to appreciate the mechanics behind any movement. This is one of the best ways to sneak your foot in the door without taking unnecessary risks.

Learn About Margins

Many online articles which claim that they offer the secret to sustainable wealth will often mention leverages and margins. The appeal to the average investor is that only a small percentage of a trade needs to be allocated into a position in order to enjoy massive profits. Always remember that the reverse is just as true. Leveraged trades can result in significant losses that could far outweigh the initial investment. Those who are beginners should avoid these strategies until they become more experienced and can spare excess capital.

Choosing the Right Platform

Modern technology has provided investors with countless different online trading platforms to choose from. Some are naturally better than others. It is critical that each provider is examined in detail so that you can make the best choice for you. A reputable provider should include:

  • An intuitive and user-friendly design.
  • Access to a host of underlying assets.
  • The ability to employ cutting-edge analytical tools.
  • Live news feeds and accurate pricing data.
  • A mobile-friendly design.

That’s why I recommend CMC Markets. It is functional, yet easy to use and understand. Thanks to modern systems, traders can be assured that they are receiving only the most relevant information when the time is right.

More Than Meets the Eye

Successful trading involves much more than predicting the movements of a holding based off of charts alone. Many other factors need to be taken into account. Politics, the economy of a region and interest rates set by central banks are three key areas to keep in mind. This is another reason why being able to access a wealth of resources will dramatically increase the chances of walking away a winner.

Never forget that making money through online trading will take time. Patience, education, and understanding are all virtues needed to do well in online trading.

10 Ways to Avoid Lifestyle Inflation

Awhile not all lifestyle inflation is necessarily bad, it certainly can wreak havoc on a budget if you aren't careful. Here's how to prevent lifestyle inflation.You may have heard the term “lifestyle inflation,” but if you haven’t, lifestyle inflation is when you start buying more to support a more lavish lifestyle. This could happen as you get older or as your income increases.

Awhile not all lifestyle inflation is necessarily bad, it certainly can wreak havoc on a budget if you aren’t careful. Another danger of lifestyle inflation is that often time, people’s desired lifestyle costs more than what they make, resulting in credit card debt or other forms of debt.

These certainly aren’t rules, but rather guidelines on how to keep your lifestyle in check. So here are 10 ways to avoid lifestyle inflation.

1. Forget About the Joneses

Keeping up with the Joneses is dangerous to you and to your budget. We all have moments of impulse where we see what our friends and neighbors have an we want it. For me, when I look at my friends, I want to travel more, buy a house, and eat out more. But these are all things that, though I feel confident I can do someday, would bust my budget right now and honestly aren’t my top priority at the moment.

So ignore the Joneses and do what’s best for you. Make your money work for you and trust your gut with timing. You might not be able to afford everything your friends have right now, but you can make it a goal to work for it and save for it for the future.

2. Trust Your Budget

Your budget is in place for a reason. It’s because it works for you.

Many people consider budgets to be confining, but have you ever thought about how much freedom a budget actually allows you?

If you budget properly, you’ll have more money to spend how you want. If you can control “boring,” but necessary expenses, like the electric bill, rent, groceries, and debt, you’ll have more money left over at the end of the month. Then you can actually choose how to spend that money in a way you want.

3. Allow Yourself Limited Inflation

It can be challenging to keep living like a broke college student years after you graduated, and it’s okay to allow yourself a little inflation. But you have to decide what your priorities are.

For me, when I finally broke free of the “broke college grad” stage, I started purchasing much healthier and more wholesome foods, as well as buying a few minor decorations for my apartment. It didn’t cost a ton, but it helps me to keep going with my budget.

If your budget allows, give yourself some sort of small luxury. Maybe you will allow yourself to go to a movie once a month, or a night out with friends every so often, or a gym membership. Whatever it is, make sure it 1) still fits within your budget and 2) is something you truly value.

4. Have a Plan for All Extra Money

When you have extra, unexpected, income, what is your plan for it?

While you can’t expect to get a tax return, inheritance, or birthday money, it doesn’t hurt to commit to putting extra money towards savings or debt.

This also goes for making extra money. I committed to putting any extra money through blogging and freelance writing towards debt. I don’t allow myself to use this money to inflate my lifestyle because honestly, I work HARD for that extra money and I don’t have to do it. I would hate to see my hard work be wasted on frivolous purchases. I am buying my financial freedom with that money.

In addition, any extra money, like gifted money from the wedding, tax returns, or extra paychecks go to our debt. When you get a large chunk of unexpected money, it can be so tempting to spend it, so planning what you will do with that money ahead of time prevents lifestyle inflation.

5. Keep a Running List of Wants and Needs

Keeping a list of wants and needs helps you to prevent impulse purchases.

For example, you might really want to go on a vacation to France. With vigorous savings and planning, that could totally happen. But when your friends try to get you to go on a trip to Hawaii, you’ll have to make a choice between what you want and what your friends want.

And when you keep a list of your needs, you’ll be able to better prioritize your spending. You’ll find yourself often having to pick between wants and needs, which will keep your finances in check.

6. Sell Items Frequently

Look around your house. How much stuff laying around don’t you use?

Take the time to frequently audit your possessions will remind you how much you already had. It will promote a minimalist lifestyle and show you that, frankly, you likely already have everything you truly need.

Plus, selling your items is a nice way to earn a little cash to pad your emergency fund or pay off debt!

7. Decide if Luxuries or Convenience is More Important to You

There are different types of lifestyle inflation. You can buy more luxury items – like furniture, fancier clothes, vacations, or cars, or people tend to splurge more on convenience items, like eating out, time-saving apps, or delivery services. While I don’t allow myself many big “luxury” inflations, I have allowed myself to purchase some convenience items because my time, though it has become more important, is less.

Convenience purchases, to a point, can be a reinvestment back to yourself. I personally would so much rather spend money on something that saves me time or makes me feel better versus buying something luxurious just to have.

My most recent convenience purchase was an upgraded iPhone. As a blogger, I constantly rely on my phone to conduct business, and my old phone ran out of storage and no longer supported my needs. So this was a luxury that was worth the cost to me.

8. Know Your Bare-Bones Budget

While this hopefully isn’t the budget you have to rely on every day, I always keep a bare-bones budget in the back of my mind. This is the budget I would switch to if I ever lost my job or came down with a serious illness or emergency.

It’s important to keep this budget in mind because at some point in your life, you won’t be able to afford luxuries. So how can you keep your lifestyle in check?

Think about someone rich who lives lavishly. They could make a million dollars a year. But if they lost their job tomorrow, could they support their current lifestyle for very long? Probably not.

This is a case for not ever increasing your lifestyle too quickly. While you don’t need to be a cheapskate all the time, it’s important to limit your lifestyle to something you can afford no matter what life throws your way.

9. Advance Your Savings Goals

When you receive a raise or lump sum of income, how do you spend it? Do you automatically consider how you could increase your lifestyle?

I’m challenging you to instead, focus on increasing your savings. There is always a case for saving more money. It doesn’t make much sense to continually fund a more lavish lifestyle while you keep your saving goals the same.

Remember, as you earn more and your lifestyle increases, your savings goals must as well.

10. Remember, Personal Finance is Personal

Everyone has drastically different financial situations, and your money is yours. Don’t let anyone tell you how to spend it!

If you don’t care about buying a house ever, then don’t buy one. If you make $500,000 a year, but choose to invest all of it while not increasing your lifestyle at all, more power to you.

And that goes for me as well. These are all tips for avoiding lifestyle inflation, because I believe we all should live somewhat below our means. But don’t think I’m trying to tell you how to spend your money! Your situation, values, and needs are so different from mine or anyone else’s. So do what’s right for you, but also be mindful about how much you’re spending on creating a lifestyle for yourself. Because having a great life doesn’t need to cost a ton 🙂

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Have you ever been tempted to increase your lifestyle? Any other tips on how to avoid lifestyle inflation? Drop a comment below!

How to Make More Money At Your Full-Time Job

Do you feel stuck at your current salary? Here's exactly how to start earning more at your 9-5 job.Who doesn’t want to make more money at their 9-5 job? It’s common for people to feel like they aren’t being paid enough for what they do at work. Sometimes, though, instead of doing anything to try to earn a raise, people feel stuck with what they are making.

Clearly, companies are trying to get the most bang for their buck. If you’re okay with an annual 2-4% raise, your employer could continue that pattern every year. While you probably shouldn’t make a big stink and complain to your employer about your current salary, there is plenty that you can do to prove you deserve a raise and actually get one.

Here’s how to make more money at your 9-5.

1. Know Your Worth

It’s hard to know what you want your salary to be if you don’t know what is realistic. Salaries depend on many metrics, including years of experience, where you’re working, what industry you work in, job title, location, and education. A lot of people have a salary in their head of what they would like to be paid, but unfortunately, that is often unrealistic.

Continue reading “How to Make More Money At Your Full-Time Job”

The Story of How I Almost Bought $30 Mascara

So the other week, I was at a party at my friend’s house. Wine was involved (I mean, hello, this is me we are talking about).

As the night went on, all of us girls ended up in my friend’s bathroom. Side note: IDK why girls always end up in a bathroom together. So many life convos. Anyway. My friend happens to be a distributor for a certain higher end makeup brand. So we were all in there trying on her makeup.

Let’s be clear. I honestly am not much of a makeup girl. But I am too frugal to pay someone to do my makeup for my wedding, so I have been experimenting with doing my own. So I was open to my friend and her products.

I tried on some of the mascara. It was that kind with 752 steps. And I put it on and holy sh*t! My eyes were huge! Gorgeous! I needed this! Everyone agreed!!

As I’m batting my eyelashes at myself, someone asked the price of the mascara. $30. Ouch. A far cry from my usual $4 mascara I get from Target with a coupon.

Even with all the pressure, I walked away from buying this mascara. I know it doesn’t seem like much of an achievement, but can you think of times you were seriously tempted to buy something you didn’t really need?

I was proud I walked away from an impulse purchase. And here are some tips to help you walk away, too.

Don’t sip and shop

Had I had one more glass of wine, I would have bought a tube of that mascara. Had I had more, I would have bought 197 tubes of it. In short – we make some stupid choices with alcohol. It causes us to be impulsive and do things we wouldn’t normally do.

Be aware of this and don’t let it blow your finances! If you need to, ask a friend to hold you accountable. You don’t want to wake up with that sort of regret.

Thou shalt feel no guilt

We all have that friend who sells something. And we all love her and support her. But that doesn’t mean that we need to pretend we need whatever she is selling.

I love my friend, and I am thankful that she wasn’t pressuring me into buying her product. If I had $30 for mascara, I would buy it. But the truth is, I don’t have a makeup budget. And, though her product was nice, I really didn’t need it.

It’s so easy for women to feel guilty about not buying a product from a friend. But truthfully, if that friend is making you feel guilty or pressuring you into buying something, maybe she isn’t that great of a friend.

The only thing this does not apply for is Girl Scout cookies. If you know a chick selling those, you better order up and put her on speed dial.

Know your values

If makeup is your thing and you have $30 in your budget for it, go for it, girl. There is no shaming here. But like I said, makeup is NOT my thing and it isn’t a high priority for me. I would rather spend that money in other ways.

Personal finance is just that – it’s personal. So know your values and make the right, well -thought out decision for you.

You’re better than peer pressure

It isn’t easy. When all your friends are blowing a ton of money, you want to, too. You don’t want to look like the broke girl or the one who isn’t having any fun.

My girlfriends were telling me how good that mascara looked and how I NEEDED to buy it. And while I wasn’t offended by that, I just didn’t let it get to me. Because that mascara was not the right thing for me to buy.

Know how to brush it off and say no. Trust me. If you spend your life succumbing to peer pressure, you will be broke and unhappy. It’s all about making the right decisions for you.


Remember that it is called personal finance for a reason. Don’t let anyone tell you what you should and should not spend money on. Take ownership of your financial situation and commit to only making well thought out and planned purchases.

As I reflect on this past year, I realized something And it is...holy sh*t, I've learned a ton! Here are my 10 biggest financial lessons I learned in 2016.

10 Biggest Financial Lessons I Learned in 2016

As I reflect on this past year, I realized one thing. And it is…holy sh*t, I’ve learned a ton!

It’s refreshing to look back and see how far you’ve come and what all you have learned! So here are my 10 biggest financial lessons I learned in 2016.

1. Cost of living matters

I used to live in rural Iowa, where I could rent a 4 bedroom house for $500 a month. I moved to Charleston, South Carolina in 2014 and every single year, the cost of living increases astonishes me.

They estimate 40 people are moving to Charleston every single day, so the housing costs, in particular, is skyrocketing. Every year, our rent is being raised, so every year, we have moved to a new apartment complex.

I forever find myself wondering what our finances would look like if we could even save $500 a month on our living expenses, but for now, we both have jobs that pay us well enough that the high cost of living is nothing more than an annoyance. We couldn’t be paid as well in an area of lower cost of living, so we are trying to adjust to seeing our rent cost.

2. My current money situation is because of me

This is a hard lesson to learn. I have student loan debt because I didn’t pay for school as I went or apply to enough scholarships. I earned a degree that wouldn’t have paid well (and required a ton of hours). So there was a period of time I wasn’t able to put hardly anything towards debt. Now that I have switched careers and have also started freelance writing on the side, I earn more, but man, I have had to work my butt off to make what I do (not to complain…I love my job and writing!)

I can’t point fingers at my school for being too expensive or blame people for not educating me. Because I should have taught myself. I was just plain stupid.

You might find yourself in a similar situation. Once you claim responsibility for your current situation, you’re setting yourself on the right path to achieve financial freedom. And the good news is that even if you got yourself into a bad situation, you are the ONLY one who can get yourself out of that situation. It’s empowering. So go kick butt.

3. Weddings are NOT cheap

I try. I knew having a wedding in Charleston would be ridiculously expensive, but it was something we wanted to do anyway. I’m fighting tooth and nail to keep the cost of this wedding as low as possible, but man. It ain’t easy!

I knew going in that it would be expensive, so I would have to lower my standards. There are so many creative ways to save! I haven’t been afraid to break tradition, so I think that helps!

4. I can make more money

This year, I was able to start making money off my blog and by freelance writing. Honestly, I didn’t really think it would be possible for me. It took a lot of hard work, but I love earning more money!

Making money on the side has been extremely empowering. It’s comforting to know if I ever lost my job or had a financial emergency that I have another source of income. And I feel proud of the little business I have built!

5. Budgets will never be perfect

No matter how much you try, your budget will never be perfect. Every day, week, and month are different, and that’s why I am fairly flexible with my budgeting.

If a super strict budget works for you, go for it! It just doesn’t really work for me. In the near future, I will be writing a post all about my flexible budgeting.

6. I’m capable of a hell of a lot more than I thought

Okay, so this might not be a direct financial realization, but taking ownership of my finances this year has shown me a lot. I had debt to pay off and a wedding to save for. I had major goals, and I realized I needed to make even more money to make it possible.

So I started earning money freelance writing and putting that towards my financial goals. I also worked extremely hard at my full-time job to earn a raise. I made it my mission to provide value and then demand to be paid for my value.

It hasn’t been easy AT ALL. Planning a wedding by myself while my fiancé is in a grueling grad school program has not been easy. Plus freelance writing, blogging, working, and studying for a certification has been tough but so worth it. Yes, there have been meltdowns on my part and times I wanted to quit everything, but I am proud of what I have done to meet my long-term goals.

I don’t say this to humble brag, but I hope you can realize that you can achieve more than you ever thought. If you aren’t relentlessly pursuing your goals, then they aren’t big enough. I didn’t learn that until I realized my student loan debt would be the biggest barrier to my goals of going to further my education, so I am thankful to have learned this lesson.

7. You can’t be “average” with your money

I talk to a lot of people about money, and I have to laugh at how many times people tell me they are just “okay” at dealing with their own money. Though I admit I do tend to see things in black and white, this just doesn’t make sense to me.

If you are just “okay” or “average” with your money, that means you don’t have as much control as you should have. While everyone has room for improvement with finances, there are some very black and white things. Debt is bad. Savings is good. If you have debt but are telling me you’re working your butt off to pay it back, I would assume that you are recovering from being bad with your money.

These are more my thoughts, so feel free to agree or disagree. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

8. Comparison is stupid

Everyone, especially women, are guilty of comparison on a regular basis. I am terrible at it! I find myself getting so jealous of other people. I compare myself to others, when I have no idea what their personal situation or feelings are.

Comparison is definitely something I want to work on in the new year. Because it’s a huge time waster! I’m excited to see what I can achieve when I put my blinders on and keep the focus on myself instead of comparing myself to others.

9. Emergency funds are a life-saver

I can’t emphasize emergency funds enough. You. Need. One.

My emergency fund gives me so much peace of mind and security. That $600 car repair bill earlier this year? I had cash for it. Without my emergency fund, my budget would have been blown for months!

10. Communication is ABSOLUTELY the key to healthy finances

Perhaps the most important lesson I learned this year is about communicating with my fiance about our finances. We have always been very open and honest about our own financial situations, and now that we are in the process of combining our finances, we really have to talk about it.

We don’t really have money fights because we have worked out our agreement. We each get some cash every month to spend at our own discretion. It’s been a huge learning opportunity this year, and I’m excited to see how our finances look when they are all officially combined (I know…nerdy to be excited about this!)


These are a few of my lessons learned this year! What are your biggest financial lessons learned in 2016? Comment below!

How to make 2017 your best year yet

How to Make 2017 Your Best Year Yet

Did you set a ton of resolutions at the beginning of 2016, only to find another year flew by without achieving all of your goals?

It happens to all of us. Our resolutions slip through the cracks and we give up when we lose motivation.

And you know what? It’s okay. We can be so hard on ourselves sometimes that the moment we mess up, we give up entirely.

Stand with me and promise to make 2017 your best year ever. Here is how I am planning to make the new year count.

Have financial goals

If you haven’t already made financial goals this year, now is the time to start.

There is so much you can do to improve your finances this year. You can start a budget, pay off debt, and start saving for an emergency. Decide what your goals are and go for it!

Find a way to progress at work

Ever wonder how some people work the same job for years and years and never move up?

Those people never pushed themselves at a young age. They never did more than what was asked, and they never took advantage of the opportunity in front of them.

We all know those people! I know I do not want to be one of them!

Being stagnant at work is a dangerous place to be. You lose motivation to get anything done and you lose passion for the job. And your boss probably will notice.

Find a way to keep your career moving forward, whether it means asking for more responsibility at your current job, going for a promotion, taking advantage of educational and training opportunities, or looking for a new job.

The people at work who you admire are constantly learning and keeping their skills fresh. They refuse to become stagnant and content. Keep pushing yourself. Find opportunity, even if it doesn’t look like there is any.

Start making money on the side

Making money on the side is an excellent way to help you achieve both your financial goals and your professional goals.

Think about what you would do with an extra $500 a month. You could pay off an extra $6,000 in debt in 2017 with that! You could build a $6,000 savings account, or travel the world….twice.

And making extra money every month is not difficult. You could get a second job, start a blog, build a freelance writing career from home, dog sit, nanny, or shovel snow. The possibilities are endless!

Another bonus of working on the side is that it keeps you motivated to do more. Think about what you currently spend your time outside of work doing. Are you fulfilled with that?

For me, freelance writing and blogging on the side has taught me so much about running my own business and how to build a website. These are skills that look good in my professional life, too!

Make time for your hobbies

Working a full-time job and a side hustle can be stressful. No matter where you are in life, it’s important to make time for your hobbies and spend time doing what you truly enjoy!

No matter what your hobby is, it’s important to invest time in it. If it makes you feel at peace, it is worth it. By spending time on your hobbies, you’ll be able to focus more on your professional and business life.

Workout

Working out. Ugh. It isn’t always fun but it is so worth it!

If you’re like me, you might find yourself sitting all day long. When I don’t workout, I feel so terrible and weak. My energy is at a low point and I feel terrible.

No matter how busy you are, make time for working out and eating healthy. It pays off. You’ll have more energy throughout the day as well as have a better attention span.

And those are just the immediate benefits of working out! You are setting yourself up for a long, healthy, and successful life when you workout.

Wake up earlier

You start your year with big goals. But you often find that you don’t have time to do them all. Especially those personal goals.

Waking up is exactly how to accomplish all your goals. Think about all the early risers you know. Would you consider them mostly to be very productive people?

I personally started waking up earlier last year. Some days, I get up 2 hours than earlier and some mornings, it is only 15 minutes earlier. But, no matter what, I am able to accomplish way more in the morning than I  could accomplish at night.

Get involved in the community

This year, make it a goal to find a way to get more involved with the community. You’ll be surprised how much you gain from further involvement!

Not only will you benefit those in your community, but you’ll gain professional skills and have a ton of opportunity to network.


The new year is the perfect time to implement some new, tangible goals. Push yourself and strive for balance to make 2017 the best year ever!

Have you ever wondered if it was possible for you to make money by freelance writing? I’m here to show you how, and why, you can start your own profitable freelance writing business. Get my free guide here!

How to Start Your Own Profitable Freelance Writing Business

Have you ever wondered if it was possible for you to make money by freelance writing? I’m here to show you how, and why, you can start your own profitable freelance writing business.

Freelance writing is appealing for a number of reasons. It gives you an opportunity to earn money while working from home on your own time. It pays well and if you enjoy writing like me, it only makes sense to get paid to do it!

I started TLB the summer of 2015, but it wasn’t until March of 2016 that I actually committed to blogging regularly. I started the blog simply to blog. I never thought it could ever lead to me making money, especially in such a short amount of time!

Since March of 2016, I have gone from making 1 cent from this blog to making a few hundreds of dollars a month – and my business is still growing.

I couldn’t have gained freelancing clients if it weren’t for my blog, so I consider my freelancing income as part of my blog profit.

While I have zero intentions of turning my freelance writing business into a full-time job as of now, it’s extremely comforting and exciting to know that I could fairly easily turn this into something more if I wanted to. In the meantime, however, I am too excited about where my day-time career is going, so freelancing will remain a fun side hustle.

If you aren’t yet convinced, here are more reasons why you should start freelance writing:

  • Extremely low startup cost – pretty much just need a computer and internet!
  • Work in the comfort of your own home
  • You choose your projects and work
  • Strengthens your writing skills
  • Writing skills are extremely transferable to any job
  • Make money!
  • Create a business on the side for more job and income security

So did I sell ya? Here’s my guide on how to start your own successful freelance writing business.

Decide on your niche

If you’re considering freelance writing, it is assumed you have strong writing skills. While you may think you have the ability to write about any topic under the sun, I caution you against that.

Clients want to hire experts in their field. They want to hire people who are just as passionate about the topic at hand as they are. By choosing a few niches, you are automatically making yourself look more skilled.

Obviously, my niche is personal finance and career. I also have experience in travel writing and legal press releases (from my full-time job…more fun than it sounds!) While I mention my experience in travel and legal writing to those interested, I will continue to primarily advertise myself as a personal finance writer.

Create a business plan

To be honest, the opportunity to get paid to write kind of fell in my lap. I didn’t have a business plan, but since I’ve gotten more writing gigs, I’ve started working on mine. Learn from my mistake and start your business plan “write” off the bat (ok sorry for the pun. It was TOO good.)

Like I mentioned above, the best part of freelance writing is that there is extremely little overhead. You probably don’t need to rent office space, buy a brand new computer, or pay for much inventory. So don’t be intimidated by writing a business plan, even if you’ve never written one in your life. Freelance writing will start off as a one-person show. You won’t have investors or anyone to present your business plan to, so it’s okay to be extremely simple. But you should write a business plan to create a clear picture of your company to yourself and your clients.

A simple business plan for freelance writing could include:

  • What is your company and what does it aim to do?
  • What services will it provide and to whom?
  • How will you market your services?
  • How will you charge and collect money for your services?

Having a business plan will save you a ton of time and confusion. Once you understand your business, you’ll set yourself up for success when finding clients to hire you.

Start a blog or website

I can’t stress this enough. My clients have even said they wouldn’t hire anyone without a blog or website and it makes total sense.

Clients want to be able to see living examples of your work and they want to know that you are technologically savvy enough to put up with the demands of virtual writing.

Having a blog in your niche shows that you have current knowledge of your topic and that you understand how to write articles that people want to read! It helps potential clients understand your style of writing and who you are as a person.

If you aren’t sure about the whole blog thing, at least consider starting your own professional website. Make sure the design is aesthetically pleasing and that it is accessible and easy to navigate. You’ll want to include examples of your work and provide potential clients with an easy way to contact you.

Reach out to clients

With millions of websites and blogs out there, you can’t just sit back and wait for people to stumble upon your freelance writing business. You really need to work for those first few clients.

Think of who might need your services. Are they companies? Bloggers? Make a master list of potential clients and their contact info.

If you are regularly commenting on blogs you would like to write for, it’s easy to just shoot the blogger an email saying you enjoy their work and to keep you in mind if they are looking to hire writers. Having natural relationships with other writers is incredibly helpful for more reasons than finding work!

If you’re reaching out to large companies and websites, however, you likely do not have a direct contact. These are big-time businesses, so keep it professional. Simply find a contact form and send a professional email, stating that you are a follower of their work and that you would like to be considered as a contributor and why they should accept you. If you have links to any work, include a few.

If you’re not feeling super confident with reaching out to larger companies, focus first on scoring some smaller clients. They are more likely to work with you and teach you a few things and give you references to other clients.

But whoever you are emailing, make sure it is written well and always err on the side of professional. Even as a small blogger, I get emails from writers that start with “Hey,” and have a ton of spelling errors. Not a good look!

Keep in mind that you will face rejection a lot. It isn’t fun, but not everyone is always hiring freelance writers, or they may have a different budget. You have to keep trying and once you score one, the rest come easier!

Have a service mindset

Freelancing is NOT EASY. There are strict deadlines and it’s up to you to create contact. If you’re not an organized person, it can be challenging to cater to multiple projects and deadlines.

So above all, remember to only take on what you can provide exceptional service for, and make sure the client is a good fit for you. One of the best parts about being a freelancer is that you can choose who you want to work with.

It might be tempting to take on a ton of jobs and clients who either aren’t writing about a subject you are knowledgeable in or who are very demanding to work for. Don’t chase the money! Only take on what feels right and what you can do well. For example – I personally would never, ever take on a sports freelance writing project. Because I. Know. NOTHING about sports! I would waste my time trying to research the topic and be disappointing to the client. I wouldn’t be delivering exceptional service and my career would suffer.

As you gain more clients, keep in tune with their needs and wants. Some clients may want you to check in often, while others may want you to charge ahead with little direction. If you’re not sure what they prefer – ask! Ask all your questions ahead of time so they are out of the way. You will want to ensure you both are on the same page moving forward.

Understand the business side

Freelancing should be run like a business. You need to dedicate time to the financial side of your business, the marketing, and customer service.

You’ll need to develop a process. How will you organize conflicting deadlines? How will you invoice clients? How will you deliver your writing?

As far as the financial side goes, keep in mind – you likely are not paying taxes on whatever you earn, so you will be responsible for your own quarterly taxes! This means you will have to pay money in taxes every quarter, so it’s important to save your earnings. The last thing you want as a freelancer is a hefty tax bill!

DC over at Young Adult Money wrote this amazingly helpful article about freelance taxes – check it out!

To keep track of my freelance finances, I personally have my own Capital One 360 savings account, where I put all of my freelance earnings. I also put my travel fund, wedding fund, and emergency fund all within my Capital One 360 savings account, which is why I love it so much! Use my referral code and get $25 when you open an account with at least $250 in it.


My personal experience with freelance writing has been amazing. I honestly had no idea I could grow the beginnings of a business from home so quickly.

The fact that I can pick my own clients, make money from home, and create my own schedule while having almost no overhead makes freelancing a fun and profitable business. I love that I can grow it as much as I want…it’s very empowering!

4 Alternatives to Traditional Christmas Gift-Giving

Is anyone else Christmas obsessed? I usually get in the Christmas spirit in the summer and listen to Christmas music until Christmas day. I know, I know. I’m one of thooooose people.

I just can’t help myself! Christmas is such a wonderful time of the year, and it’s the only time I get to see my whole family.

Anyway, it’s no secret that Christmas, as beautiful and jolly (!!!) and wonderful as it is can be damaging to our finances. Gifts cost a ton of money, plus the cost of travel expenses, food (and more food…and more food….) and higher entertainment costs. The total cost of Christmas can very easily reach over $1,000 or more.

While buying gifts is very generous, most people aren’t attached to receiving gifts. Why not consider alternatives to traditional Christmas gift-giving to save some serious money during the season? Here are 4 alternative ideas for you to try.

Secret Santa gift exchange

Have your family pool together to do a secret Santa gift exchange.

If you don’t know how it works, you simply put everyone’s name in a hat and have everyone draw one. You only buy one gift for that specific person.

The hardest, but most fun part about this is keeping who you’re shopping for a secret! And it’s more fun to pick out one really amazing gift for one person instead of trying to scramble for gifts for everyone.

Set spending limits

Together with your family, decide how much you are allowed to spend on gifts for one another.

You could do something fair, but affordable, like $30 per person max. Or you could really challenge one another and do a $10 gift limit. This forces you to get creative with your gift giving.

Make homemade gifts

For those of you who have been #blessed with DIY skills (unlike me), making your own Christmas gifts can save you a ton of money.

Quick note about DIY – I literally have no DIY sills, but I try hard. I crocheted scarves for everyone one year and they were the saddest thing ever. I mean, they were hideous. So only DIY if you’re confident in yourself and in your own skills 🙂

Focus on birthday gifts instead of Christmas gifts

This is what my mom decided to do. Instead of going ham on buying Christmas gifts, she gives each of us a generous birthday gift. Before, we used to do small gifts for birthdays and big gifts for Christmas.

This saved my mother a ton of money and a ton of headache! Since she is still a mom, she insists on getting us stocking stuffers for Christmas so we still have something to open Christmas morning.

Following my mother’s example, I started to do this as well. I love it because it makes that person’s birthday extra special and gives me time to search for a gift I know they want.

Budget-wise, this works incredibly well for me. Instead of saving hundreds of dollars for Christmas gifts, I can save and spend that money throughout the entire year for everyone’s birthdays.

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Christmas is such a happy time of year, and I think you’ll find that by committing to an alternative form of gift-giving, you’ll have just as much, if not more, joy during the season!

How to Plan for Retirement When You’re Young and Broke

Okay, y’all. Let’s talk retirement.

I know you’re just dying to talk about this so you can thank me later 🙂

Retirement is not a fun topic, but it is necessary, especially for millennials. No one really taught us about retirement before or after graduation, so it’s up to us to educate ourselves.

Say you graduated college with the average student loan debt of $30,000. You find your first job that pays $32,000 (again…an average). Your student loan payments for a 10-year payment plan are around $400/month. Your salary means you bring home around $2,600 (that isn’t including taxes!!!) Assuming 25% of your pay goes to taxes, you bring home right at $2,000 a month.

If you’re bringing home $2,000 a month, nearly 1/4 of your take home pay is going to student loans. Then you have other expenses, such as rent, utilities, car payments, insurance, an emergency fund, and food. There isn’t much left at the end of the month. How can you be planning for retirement when you literally have no extra money left?

I’m going to save the convo on how much you actually need for retirement for another time. But here are some helpful resources in the meantime. But in short – you’ll need to be saving A LOT more for retirement RIGHT NOW than you think you need at a rate much higher than what you are currently doing.

Thinking about retirement sucks. When you just entered the workforce, you can’t fathom to think 40+ years in advance to retirement. And there are so many unknowns about the future. Will we have social security benefits? Likely not. What will the inflation rate be? Hint – $100 today won’t get you too far in 40 years. You need to save even more money to plan for some unknown future.

But instead of focusing on what we do not know or what we can’t control, let’s focus on what we can do right now to plan for retirement. Because, believe it or not, you can and you need to start saving today.

Decide what priority is most important right now

When you have a relatively small income and a lot of debt, you don’t have much extra money to work with.

Like the example above, trying to pay for everything on a small budget when you just graduated is extremely challenging. You can’t be expected to save thousands for retirement when you’re making an entry-level salary, and even more so if you have student loans. Retirement is extremely important, but the good news is that you DO have time to save more.

Start by free up as much money as you can in your budget. Then prioritize where any extra money should go. If you have a massive amount of student loan or consumer debt, maybe that should be your focus right now instead of planning extensively for retirement.

If you have a manageable amount of student loans, consider what would be the best option for you. If your student loans have a relatively low interest rate, you might be better off financially to invest any extra student loan payments into a retirement account that would earn a higher (and long-term) interest.

But, please, keep in mind that money is not black and white. Retirement, paying off debt, and being able to afford to live are all important. You can’t focus on one entirely and ignore the others. You need to find the balance that works for you.

Take advantage of employer sponsored retirement plans

Most companies offer a retirement plan of some sort. If yours doesn’t, and you are a full-time employee, consider finding a new company that does, and start your own IRA (here’s an awesome guide) Because it is a huge benefit to you!

A 401k with your company is simple enough to start. If you’re unsure, just contact your HR or Benefits Manager and they’ll help you out. You can easily have money deducted out of your paycheck and directly into your retirement account every month.

So, what’s an employer match? A match means your employer will contribute whatever you put into your retirement account, up to a certain percentage. Every company is different, but to use as an example, say your employer will match up to 5%. If you make $32,000 a year and put in 5% of your own salary into a 401k, you will have $1,600 in your account. Then your employer will contribute an additional $1,600, making your account hold $3,200. Then, of course, you earn money on this through interest 🙂

But say your employer will match up to 5%, but you only put in 3% of your salary. You put in $960 a year, and so does your employer. So you essentially are losing out on $640 worth of free money from your employer.

If you’re really unsure about where to start saving for retirement, make it your goal to save at least the full amount that your employer would contribute so you are taking full advantage of what your employer is offering. Don’t leave any money on the table.

Remember, retirement will have to be your #1 priority at some point

Saving for retirement might not be a big deal to you now, but at some point in your life, it will be your #1 priority. If you fail to save now, you’ll be desperately saving later in your life.

It can be hard to imagine, but we are in an age where pensions are rare and social security is not promising. Any retirement you hope to have is your responsibility.

And doesn’t it break your heart to see elderly people working still because they failed to plan out their financial future? I don’t want to be working when I’m 70, or even 50! I want to be retired and enjoying my life, free from work.

Make more money

If you think the possibility of making more money is out of your control, you are wrong. Once you start realizing you have control of not only your spending, but your earnings, your life will change.

If your job doesn’t offer a retirement program or doesn’t pay well, always remember you can find another job. It might take some time, but you are not bound to any job, unless it’s a contract.

Side hustling is another way you can make a lot of money quickly. There are limitless possibilities on how to make money on the side of your full-time job. Maybe you want to dog sit, nanny, work in a restaurant, restore cars, do woodworking, sew, or be like me and blog and freelance on the side. You’d be amazed at how much you can earn!

Unless you’re working 80 hours a week at your full-time job, there really isn’t an excuse to not start a side hustle. Even if your side hustle is making $50 tutoring for one hour a week, you’ll earn an extra $200 a month, which could even pay for your student loan payment. It really isn’t hard, in fact, many people I know turned their side hustle into a full-time job because they loved it and had more opportunity doing it.

Takeaway

To sum up retirement (and you’re like, why did I read the whole article when the final point is right here?)

  • You need to save now. You might not be able to save a lot now, and the good news is you do have time to save more.
  • Finances are all about balance. You can’t focus on just one aspect at a time because you have more than just one priority. You may have to focus on paying off debt or increasing your income before hardcore saving for retirement, but you should always be saving something for retirement.
  • Don’t leave money on the table. Aim to save enough to get your employer to match your retirement contributions at the very least.
  • Remember, you have complete control over your finances. You can earn more money or you can blow all your money. If you aren’t where you want to be financially, you have to look at yourself.
  • Remind yourself of what retirement actually is. By saving now, you’re putting money away to stop working and travel the world if you want. By not saving now, you’re setting yourself up for a lifetime of work ahead of you, even when you’re old.

6 Weekly Habits for Improved Finances

Interested in improving your finances? You’re here and checking out a personal finance blog, so you’re taking a good first step!

Unfortunately, it isn’t enough to just know and learn about personal finance. In order to improve finances, you have to take action.

It can be completely overwhelming to pay off potentially thousands of dollars of debt, save for the future, invest, learn to budget, and understand healthcare all at the same time.

The easiest way is to aim to improve your finances in an organized way. By focusing on doing a few small things a week, your finances will take a turn for the better.

If you’re looking to improve your financial situation, here are 6 weekly habits to start implementing now.
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