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!

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.
Continue reading “6 Weekly Habits for Improved Finances”

10 Ways to Stop Impulse Shopping

How many girls do you know who are fairly decent at budgeting, but then BAM, their closet is spilling over and they can be found at the mall every weekend? I’ll let you in on a secret: that used to be me.

Shopping was such an emotional habit for me. I’d shop when I was bored, when I was lonely, when I was stressed, when I was procrastinating. Shopping made me feel better for a little bit, but it wasn’t solving anything. The worst part of it was that I was buying a lot of cheap, poor quality clothes. But my closet quickly became filled with, so put it bluntly, a whole lot of crap.

It wasn’t until I moved that I realized just how much junk I had. For someone who has moved 7 times in the past two years, that was a lot of baggage to carry around. Something needed to change.

Now, I still love to shop, but I have definitely curbed my impulse shopping habit. Here’s 10 steps I took to stop emotional shopping:

  1. Clean out your closet.

    This is the only way to see just how much stuff you have bought and things you haven’t even worn. When I cleaned out my closet, I realized I was getting rid of hundreds of dollars of clothes that I had not worn once. What a waste!

  2. Research classic, staple items you need to build a solid wardrobe.

    No matter your personal style, figure out the basics. You likely will want a nice coat, a few pairs of quality jeans, some black heels, etc. Write these things down! They are items you will want to invest in and maybe even splurge on. Predict how many years of use you can get out of each item.

  3. Make a list of all clothes you need, and which season they fit.

    Keeping a running list of every item of clothing you need will serve you in so many ways. If you’re having a moment of weakness and want to impulse shop, you can use this list to make sure you’re buying only things you actually need. This list also provides opportunities to find more items on sale because you know what you’re looking for.

  4. Be smart and buy at the end of the season.

    Have you ever noticed how swimsuits go on super sale at the end of summer? When at the beginning of summer, they are ridiculously expensive? When you create a list of exactly what you need, you can be on the look out for these end-of-season deals and can save a ton of money. Sure, you might miss out on buying the hottest trends of the season, but trends come and go anyway. To me, spending money on timeless pieces that I can wear for years to come is worth far more than buying a new trendy piece every single year.

  5. Save up for high quality pieces.

    If you are buying an item that you will wear almost daily, then it is worth it to splurge on a higher quality. For example, when I lived in Iowa, it was imperative that I had a winter coat. I wore it every day for almost 6 months out of the year, so it was worth it to invest in a higher quality coat versus a cheap one. Plus, it kept me nice and toasty 🙂

  6. If it’s not on your list, no buying!

    This will force you to really think through your purchases ahead of time and eliminate any possible impulses.

  7. Acknowledge your emotions before shopping.

    Be aware of how you feel and be honest with yourself. Are you shopping because you’re trying to fill a void, or are you truly shopping because you need clothes?

  8. Ask yourself how many wears you’ll get out of that outfit.

    Calculating cost per wear is a great guideline to know if something is actually worth it. You can learn more about it here.

  9. Only buy clothes you absolutely LOVE.

    If you’re like me, half the stuff you buy on impulse is total junk. Maybe it was on sale or maybe you were just feeling emotional while buying it. If clothes don’t make you feel great, then they aren’t worth buying. This can be a hard lesson to learn for some who view clothes as simply functional. Clothes can say so much about you, so I encourage people to spend time and money dressing themselves in a way that makes them feel great.

  10. Have fun and shop on!

    Shopping can still be fun, even while trying to curb impulse shopping and while sticking to a budget. Be smart about your purchases and be in tune with your emotions and you can’t go wrong.