How I Flip Garage Sale Items On eBay As A Side Hustle

Hello! Please enjoy this article from a reader, Rush Walters, on how he flips garage sale and auction items on eBay as a side hustle to make extra income.

Depending on who you ask, there are pros and cons to being a high school teacher. One con: income, One pro: having summers off.How I Flip Garage Sale Items On eBay As A Side Hustle

How I Flip Garage Sale Items On eBay As A Side Hustle

Both my wife and I are teachers in a small mid-Missouri town. During my first year (2015) as a high school teacher and head boy’s tennis coach I was making a whopping $38,000 a year.

Needless to say, the budget was tight some months.

When I got married in 2018, I thought a second income would be very helpful, but a second salary would not come until 2019. Long story short, my wife is from Bolivia and was not able to legally work for a year until she received her permanent residency status (green card).

Two people living off of one middle-class paycheck, let alone a teacher’s paycheck, was challenging. Thankfully my wife and I were decent at budgeting, and have been using a successful budgeting process since we have been married, but I’ll save that story for another day.

Financially we were fine, but what about the fun money? What about going out to eat with friends during the weekends? What about going to the movies? What about my “want” purchases?

This is when the idea of flipping items on eBay from garage sales & auctions came into full effect.

At the time, I heard about one of my coworkers making a significant amount of money from flipping sports memorabilia on the side. I thought to myself, “I could do that, I don’t have much of a sports background, but I do have an eBay account and I have been to garage sales before.”

So I began waking up Saturday mornings at 6am, grabbing my coffee thermos, heading to the local gas station to purchase the local newspaper, and marking up the classifieds with my pen.

(Sifting through the junk at garage sales to find the gold!)

Sifting through the junk at garage sales to find the gold!

I would circle all of the sales that started that day only. Forget the 2-day garage sales that started the day before. I am not saying that you cannot find anything of value at these sales, but everything has already been picked through and all the good stuff has been bought. 

Flipping items on eBay quickly became my side hustle! Starting out I sought some advice from my coworker I mentioned earlier.

I mean this guy is really into it, he would travel on the weekends to trade shows in other states and if he was going solo he would sleep in his car to save money. He is frugal, well some people like to call it “cheap,” haha.

Along with advice from him, I honestly learned a lot through experience. Trials & Tribulations. From a good flip I gained money and joy, from a bad flip I learned a lesson. Throughout this process I also learned about the value of my time.

Is it worth spending half a day at auction just for one item that may bring me $20?

I am going to share with you my step by step process for beginners flipping items on eBay. I have made mistakes and I have enjoyed successes, but most importantly is that I learned from my experiences. Experience is one of the best teachers you can find.

Related content:

How I make extra money reselling items on eBay.

Step 1: Mining for Diamonds

You will be mining for the “diamond(s) in the ruff” as they say.

There are three specific tools you will need before you hit the ground running. Let’s start with the most obvious: cash money. Make an effort to go to the bank the day before you go garage saling.

In the morning when I would buy the newspaper at the gas station, I would ask the register if they could change a $20, but I quickly found out that changing a $20 at the local gas station isn’t always reliable. Some gas stations have enough one dollars bills to spare, some do not. That being said, I have done it many times, but sometimes I am only able to get 10 or 15 one dollar bills at a time.

This limits my bartering power. You are not going to be able to go to the bank in the morning because they are closed and ATMs do not output dollar amounts in increments of 1.

My top tip for cash is to always carry $1 bills on you. Reason being, when you barter you will need to have the ability to pay any amount, not just increments of $5. I try to carry twenty one $1 bills on me at all times when I’m garage saling. If you make a purchase that you have larger bills for, use your large bills. Only use your dollar bills when needed.

Tool #2 is the newspaper. Always buy your local newspaper the day of the sale. Your local gas stations should always have a copy. As soon as you get in your car, pull out the classifieds portion of the paper, throw the rest in your backseat, pull out your pen and start circling all the garage sales that open for the first time that morning. Make a mental note of the times, obviously you want to go to the earliest ones first. Don’t spend forever doing this, you are on a schedule!

Have a game plan, you know the town you live in, take the most strategic route you can. Do not go all the way out to the East side of town then turn right around to go all the way to the West side of town. Go to the East side and hit up all the sales along the way. There isn’t a specific game plan that I can give you for what sales to hit first, only some pointers.

Obviously hit the first ones that are open first. Hit the ones that are in the same vicinity. Hit what you are looking for. I personally like to flip old video games for a number of reasons, so if I see a listing mentioning video games, I will put that sale on the top of my list. The final thing you need to consider is the type of garage sale listing. Here are the top 3 listings you need to know:

Moving Sales – The name the game is in the title: “moving.” These sellers are motivated to move and get rid of their items. Sure, getting some extra money is a plus, but they just want to get rid of items so they can move without having to worry about them. They are motivated to sell and are very open to deals.

Estate Sales – The best of the best in my opinion. These sellers are not moving, but they want to get rid of everything. I would argue that they are more motivated to sell compared to anyone else because they are just cleaning the estate of everything, sometimes for any price.

The normal “Garage Sale” – The most common sale, these sellers are more motivated to make money rather than to get rid of items. They are the hardest to barter with, but have some of the most valued items because they are priced to sell.

(Online Garage Sale Ad from my local newspaper)

Online Garage Sale Ad from my local newspaper

All in all, you can probably find deals at any of these sales, the title of them only helps me prioritize which one I am going to first. If both a garage sale and estate sale begins at 7am you better be dang sure that I am going to the estate sale first.

Some local newspapers have a digital version of the classifieds listed as well as a paper copy. The only benefit I’ve found to this compared to the paper copy is that it helps me make my decision on whether or not I want to go garage selling the next day. Typically my paper posts the day-of classifieds for Saturday online starting at midnight, which makes sense. You will have to do your own research if your paper offers this.

So if I see that the online classifieds are only listing two garage sales for the next morning, chances are I will not go unless the listing description is promising/convincing.

Also, people do post ads on Facebook and they should be considered, but I have found that if it is on Facebook it will be listed in the paper too, at least if it’s worth going to.

As soon as you’re done marking up the classifieds and establishing your game plan, head to your first sale, it never hurts to be early. I am going to repeat this, it never hurts to be early. I stress this because although the listing may say that they open at 7am, I have seen them open at 6:50am. Yes 10mins. makes a difference! A 10min window could be your chance to cash in on a great deal or could be a missed opportunity to cash in on a great deal if you show up at 7:00am. If you are there before it opens, no worries, wait in your car until they open. Yes I know I know, it may seem creepy to wait in your car outside their house but hey it will not be creepy when you’re walking away with great items to flip.

Always make every effort to be first.

You need to be the first person at the sale so that you are the first person to see what they have to offer and the first person to land the best deal. People are vultures out there, they want the best meat first and do not care who is in the way.

Last but not least, you will need your smartphone charged and the eBay app up and running. On the app you are able to conduct a search for previously sold items. This tool is your key for finding the current values of items. This tool is great because it is always updated and always accurate.

You find the “Sold Items” button under the filter when searching for a specific item, as shown in the picture below.

Left image: “Sold Items” button              Right image: Sold Items Search Results

Once you have learned more about what sells and what does not, you can move quicker.

Again you are on a schedule, I am not saying you need to run from sale to sale, but if you don’t find any deals at one you are wasting your time just walking around.

Your time could be spent better at another sale, where you could be beating someone else to the punch.

Step 2: Bartering

Here comes the pivotal point. When to say yes, when to say no, what price to ask?

When bartering for objects in the $20 and under range, I most often start by offering half of what they are asking. Example: the item is priced at $10 so I will offer $5. Now I know that 8 out of 10 times I am probably not going to get the item for half off, but it’s a starting point to get the item for at least 25% off the original price. So why do I shoot for half off you might ask?

There is a good chance that they are going to counter your original offer, therefore if you start your offer at 25% off the original price they could counter with 10% off the original price. The seller, as well as the buyer, wants to get that satisfied feeling. You as the buyer are satisfied with getting a deal whereas the seller is still happy with making money although it might be a little lower than what they were asking.

You also need to take in mind that most garage sellers are not out there to make money for a living. Their purpose is to get rid of items they do not want anymore and it is a bonus if they are able to get cash in return, it’s not like they are running a pop-up business. Most of the time they are more motivated to get rid of items compared to just making money.

When you are bartering you also need to establish your stopping point. What is too expensive for you?

The lower the price you purchase your item for, the larger window of opportunity you have to make money. This decision all depends on how much you want to make. The details are in the margins, if you see a video game that sold on eBay for $15 and you bought it for $5 that’s a decent amount of profit.

You tripled your money.

When you look up an item on eBay  you need to be as specific as possible, so your search results are as accurate as possible. If you cannot find an exact copy of the item that was sold, find the most closely related item and use it to set your standard for the value of an item and establish what you are willing to pay for it.

Do not get caught up in the excitement of the deal. Yes it’s exciting and yes it’s enjoyable to have success flipping products, but do not let it cloud your judgement or your knowledge. I am going to be honest, money does not care about your feelings.

Stay focused, get what you set out to get for the right price.

When I run into an item that I am still learning about I always ask myself is it worth the risk of X amount of dollars?

Are you comfortable with potentially losing X amount of dollars?

Risk is always involved.

I can remember when I purchased some collectible Harley-Davidson Steins. I did not know too much about them, I saw what they sold for on eBay and then decided to take a risk. The seller gave me a price that I was comfortable with so I purchased two of them. I broke positive, but only made a few bucks for a good amount of work. I am glad I did not lose money, but I lost my time.

My time is valuable and so is yours.

Behind every flip, there is a lesson to be learned.

Before we get into the final step, I am going to share with you lessons I have learned from my faults and successes.

Lessons to be learned

After dropping my wife off at the airport in the city, I figured I might as well hit up some auctions on my way back home.

At the time, I had been to auctions before so I knew the routine, but I had never been to an auction with the goal in mind to flip items. I had a few successful garage sale flips under my belt so I figured auctions are the next level in my side hustle pursuit.

I saw this collection of old American coins, mostly Kennedy half dollars and some steel pennies that were made during the war due to the shortage of copper.

I did the math, if I sold 50 of them at $5 a pop I would make $250 so I’d be comfortable with spending $200 for the lot. I remember that I liked that fact the coins are a small item so they would be easy to mail. I also liked that it was a collection therefore I could build my inventory without having to go to multiple garage sales to keep my eBay listings updated. I bought the coins, but I had to bid against others which drove up the price and my valuation was wrong 😬.

I did not know much about coin collecting and on top of my little knowledge of the items, I did not have good cell phone service in the building so I could not follow my rule of valuing items on eBay.

I knew that there was a market for collectible coins, but I did not take into consideration the specifics of coin collections. Collecting coins and currency is a whole other ball game. Let alone the quality certifications behind them.

Let’s just say I was in the negative on this flip. I believe I sold around $50 – $70 of the around $200 I spent on them. I also bought a collection of lighters that day for around $90 and sold them for around $20 – $30.

Sad day.

On the flip side of things my first big sell was a fishing lure. I bought a small tackle box of fishing lures and gear for $15 at a local garage sale.

When I was evaluating the price of the lures on eBay I was confident that I could make my money back and I was comfortable with risking $15. I had trouble choosing a listing price for the lures, I just did not know what to start them at.

Let me remind you that this was when I was first starting out. I asked my coworker what he thought, he suggested that I start auctioning them at 99 cents. So that’s what I did. That way I could see if they are worth anything and learn from my first attempt at selling lures.

Certain Fishing lures are very collectible.

I sold one for $100!!

This was my first big sale and I was ecstatic! I caught the eBay fever!

My first big flip: collectable fishing lure

My first big flip: collectable fishing lure

Step 3: Quality eBay Listings

I am not going to go through how to list an item step by step by step, but I am going to discuss my top recommendations when listing an item.

The reasoning I’m not going to go through it step by step is because eBay does a great job at outlining what is required for item listings.

I am going to give you what you need to take your listings from a default basic level to a high quality level.

By now if you were using the “sold items” feature on eBay during step 1, you should already have the eBay app installed on your phone. To list items you need to make a free account on eBay. The company does a great job and gives you a straightforward process for setting up an account.

I don’t have much complaints to say about the app, it provides an easy and understandable process for listing items.

Starting out, I would recommend that you focus on the “auction” listing more than anything else. You have the potential to make money and you can learn how expensive people value your specific item.

When you set up a “buy it now” listing, you set a constant price that won’t change.

Whereas buyers in auctions determine the final price; the sky’s the limit.

Another beautiful aspect that auctions offer is that they drive competition! Think about it, say you’re missing the last few presidents in your campaign button collection and president #3 is up for auction. President #3 is hard to come by so you know that you’re going to do whatever it takes to obtain his button……so is the next guy…..and the next guy…..and the next guy.

That means one thing for you: $$$$$$. I think you get the picture.

I believe this is what happened with my $100 fishing lures. Two guys were going at it, to add to their collection.

Now this doesn’t happen with all items, not all items are a part of a collection. The principle of supply and demand rings true and through auctions you are able to witness this process as a seller.

Let’s get into pricing.

Always start your auction at a price below what the previous item sold for. This may seem like common sense, but I have seen plenty of auction listings starting at the price they are valued at. Let me remind you that they have zero bids!

I wonder why. 😐

My rule of thumb is that the lower the starting price, compared to what it is valued at, the higher attention your listing is going to attract.

With a low starting point, potential buyers are going to see it as a deal to be made! I typically start the listing from $10 to sometimes $20 below what it is valued at. Also do not forget to take into account eBay’s 10% listing sellers fee. For most items eBay only takes 10% of your sold price. Here is a detailed list of eBay’s fees.

Once you have an idea for a ballpark price, you are going to want to take quality pictures of your product.

Display:

  • the back
  • the front
  • the sides, and
  • a bird’s eye view

Display every picture necessary to give potential buyers a full understanding of your item.

Once your pictures are uploaded you need to complete the description of the item, this is often overlooked/partially completed.

Now do not over do it, but your item’s description needs to be specific.

Example, if I am selling a video game that I have never tested on a console and the case is missing the original manual I would put the following in the description:“Untested and missing manual as seen in pictures.”

By saying this, it both informs your buyer and covers your butt. I have had it happen to me a few times where a buyer will purchase a produce that has a defect, that I mentioned in the description and showed pictures of 🙃, complaining that it is broken or not what they originally purchased. I then reference my original posting and they can’t win the argument. I will not refund them their purchase because they did not read the description.

What about reviews from the buyer!?!

If a buyer who is in the wrong attempts to give you a bad review, you can call eBay’s customer service, explain the situation, and ask for it to be taken down. Of course eBay must agree that you are in the right, but if you are right they will back you up.

1 point eBay, 0 points grumpy buyer.

Last tip on listing an item: shipping.

When starting out, always have the buyer pay for shipping. Ebay has a good system in place that calculates how much it will cost per person based upon their location.

All you have to do is enter the item’s weight and dimensions of the box/package that you plan to ship it in. When filling out the shipping portion of your listing, be sure that everything is correct otherwise you will be charged for extra shipping if your items actually cost more than you anticipated.

This is a lesson that I had to learn more than once.

Conclusion

  1. Establish your game plan for garage selling. Know where and how to mine for gold.
  2. Barter like it’s nobody’s business! The lower the price the greater the window of opportunity you have to make money.
  3. Simply follow directions when creating a listing, be thorough with your pictures and description.

Finally and most importantly, learn as you go.

After you do your research and read up on how to flip items on eBay, you need to try it! Experience is one of the best teachers.

I have experienced bad flips and good flips.

The path to success is not perfect otherwise everybody would be doing it.

Author bio: Rush is a Mid-Missouri high school engineering teacher and tennis coach. He and his wife Mia have no kids, only a smart Bernese Mountain dog named Zion. Along with teaching, he runs one blog; Clim & Joe’s. He enjoys exploring, cooking, board games, and time spent with his wife and family. 

Are you interested in flipping items for resale? What questions do you have for Rush?

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Source: makingsenseofcents.com

What Is A Conventional Home Loan?

Nothing compares to scrolling through listings until you find the home with the perfect garden, garage, and floors. Then comes the less fun part: figuring out how to finance your home purchase.

For the vast majority of people, acquiring a new home means taking out a mortgage, a loan for the part of the house cost that isn’t covered by the down payment.

U.S. homeownership hovers near 66%, and millennials continue to be the biggest share of buyers. What kind of loan do most go for? The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. But conventional loan requirements vary, and some may find that a government-sponsored loan is a better fit.

Let’s take a closer look at conventional loan requirements and the difference between FHA and conventional loans.

Conventional Mortgages Explained

Conventional mortgages are insured by private lenders, not a government agency, and are the most common type of home loan.

Then there are government-guaranteed home loans. FHA loans are more commonly used than VA loans (for service members, veterans, and eligible surviving spouses) and USDA loans (rural housing). Government loans are often easier to qualify for.

Taking out a conventional home loan means that you are making an agreement with a lender to pay back what you borrowed, with interest.

And unlike with an FHA loan, the government does not offer any assurances to the lender that you will pay back that loan. That’s why lenders look at things like your credit score and down payment when deciding whether to offer you a conventional mortgage and at what rate.

See how SoFi can help make your
dream home a reality.

Two Main Types of Conventional Loans

Fixed Rate

A conventional loan with a fixed interest rate is one in which the rate won’t change over the life of the loan. If you have a “fully amortized conventional loan,” your monthly principal and interest payment will stay the same each month.

Although fixed-rate loans can provide predictability when it comes to payments, they may initially have higher interest rates than adjustable-rate mortgages.

Fixed-rate conventional loans can be a great option for homebuyers during periods of low rates because they can lock in a rate and it won’t rise, even decades from now.

Adjustable Rate

Adjustable-rate mortgages have the same interest rate for a set period of time, and then the rate will adjust for the rest of the loan term.

The major upside to choosing an ARM is that the initial rate is usually set below prevailing interest rates and remains constant for six months to 10 years.

A 7/6 ARM of 30 years will have a fixed rate for the first seven years, and then the rate will adjust once every six months over the remaining 23 years. A 5/1 ARM will have a fixed rate for five years, followed by a variable rate that adjusts every year.

An ARM may be a good option if you’re not planning on staying in the home long term. The downside, of course, is that if you are, your interest rate could end up higher than you want it to be.

Most adjustable-rate conventional mortgages have limits on how much the interest rate can increase over time. These caps protect a borrower from facing an unexpectedly steep rate hike.

Conventional Home Loan Requirements

Conventional mortgage requirements vary by lender, but almost all private lenders will require you to have a cash down payment, a good credit score, and sufficient income to make the monthly payments.

Many lenders that offer conventional loans require that you have enough cash to make a decent down payment. Even if you can manage it, is 20% down always best? It might be more beneficial to put down less than 20% on your dream house.

You’ll also need to demonstrate a good credit history. For example, you’ll want to show that you make loan payments on time every month.

Each conventional loan lender sets its own requirements when it comes to credit scores, but generally, the higher your credit score, the easier it will be to secure a conventional mortgage at a competitive interest rate.

Most lenders will require you to show that you have a sufficient monthly income to meet the mortgage payments. They will also require information about your employment and bank accounts.

How Do FHA and Conventional Loans Differ?

One of the main differences between FHA loans and conventional loans is that the latter are not insured by a federal agency.

FHA loans are insured by the Federal Housing Administration, so lenders take on less risk. If a borrower defaults, the FHA will help the lender recoup some of the lost costs.

FHA loans are easier to qualify for, and are geared toward lower- and middle-income homebuyers. They require at least 3.5% down.

Additionally, the loans are limited to a certain amount of money, depending on the geographic location of the house you’re buying. The lender administering the FHA loan can impose its own requirements as well.

An FHA loan can be a good option for a buyer with a lower credit score, but it also will require a more rigorous home appraisal and possibly a longer approval process than a conventional loan.

Conventional loans require private mortgage insurance if the down payment is less than 20%, but PMI will automatically terminate when the loan balance reaches 78% of the original value of the mortgaged property, unless the borrower asked to stop paying PMI once the balance reached 80% of the original property value.

FHA loans require mortgage insurance, no matter the down payment amount, and it cannot be canceled unless you refinance into a conventional loan.

The Takeaway

A conventional home loan and FHA loan differ in key ways, such as credit score requirements. If you’re ready to make your dream house a reality, you’ll want to size up your eligibility and your mortgage options.

SoFi offers fixed-rate home loans with as little as 5% down and terms of 10, 15, 20, and 30 years.

It takes just two minutes to get prequalified online.



SoFi Home Loans
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. SoFi Home Loans are not available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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Source: sofi.com

7 Signs it’s Time for a Mortgage Refinance

Maybe you’ve considered refinancing your mortgage, but you’ve only dipped your toe in the exploratory waters. Is now the right time? Will rates stay low? Could they go lower?

It can be hard to know when to take the plunge.

Whether you purchased a home recently or bought a home years ago, you probably noticed that average mortgage rates continued to hover near historic lows in early 2021.

But as with any financial rate or data point, it is hard—if not impossible—to time the market or predict the future.

Homeowners often look to refinance when it could benefit them in some way, like with a lower monthly payment. Refinancing is the process of paying off a mortgage loan with new financing, ideally at a lower rate or with some other, more favorable, set of terms.

Here are seven signs that locking in a lower mortgage rate now could be the right move.

1. You Can Break Even Fairly Quickly

Refinancing a mortgage costs money—generally 2% to 5% of the principal amount. So if you are refinancing to save money, you’ll likely want to run numbers to be sure the math checks out.

To calculate the break-even point on a mortgage refinance—when savings exceed costs—do this:

1. Determine your monthly savings by subtracting your projected new monthly mortgage payment from your current monthly payment.
2. Find your tax rate (e.g., 22%) and subtract it from 1 for your after-tax rate.
3. Multiply monthly savings by the after-tax rate. This is your after-tax savings.
4. Take the total fees and closing costs of the new mortgage loan and divide that number by your monthly after-tax savings. This yields the number of months it will take to recover the costs of refinancing—or the break-even point.

For example, if you’re refinancing a $300,000, 30-year mortgage that has a fixed 6% rate to a new 4% rate, refinancing will reduce your original monthly payment from $1,799 to $1,432—a monthly savings of $367. Assuming a tax rate of 22%, the after-tax rate would be 0.78, which results in an after-tax savings of $286.26. If you have $12,000 in refinancing costs, it will take nearly 42 months to recoup the costs of refinancing ($12,000 / $286.26 = 41.9).

The length of time you intend to own the home can affect whether refinancing is worth the expense. You’ll want to run the calculations to make sure that you can break even on a timeline that works for you.

The rate and fees usually work in tandem. The lower the rate, the higher the cost. (“Buying down the rate” means paying an extra fee in the form of discount points. One point costs 1% of the mortgage amount.)

If you’re shopping, each mortgage lender you apply with is required to give you a loan estimate within three days of your application so you can compare terms and annual percentage rates. The APR, which includes the interest rate, points, and lender fees, reflects the true cost of borrowing.

2. You Can Reduce the Rate by at Least 0.5%

You may have heard conflicting ideas about when you should consider refinancing. The reason is that there is no one-size-fits-all answer; individual loan scenarios and goals differ.

One commonly espoused rule of thumb is that the home refinance rate should be a minimum of two percentage points lower than an existing mortgage’s rate. What may work for each individual depends on things like loan amount, interest rate, fees, and more.

However, the combination of larger mortgages and lenders offering lower closing cost options has changed that. For a large mortgage, even a change of 0.5% could result in significant savings, especially if the homeowner can avoid or minimize lender fees.

Maybe rates are low enough that you choose to take a higher rate with a no closing cost refi.

3. You Can Afford to Refinance to a 15-Year Mortgage

When you refinance a loan, you are getting an entirely new loan with new terms. Depending on your eligibility, it is possible to adjust aspects of your loan beyond the interest rate, such as the loan’s term or the type of loan (fixed vs. adjustable).

If you’re looking to save major money over the duration of your mortgage loan, you may want to consider a shorter term, such as 15 years. Shortening the term of your mortgage from 30 years to 15 years will likely cost you more monthly, but it could save thousands in interest over the life of the loan.

For example, a 30-year $1 million loan at a 7.5% interest rate would carry a monthly payment of approximately $6,992 and a total cost of around $1,517,172 over the life of the loan.

Refinancing to a 15-year mortgage with a 5.5% rate would result in a higher monthly payment, about $8,171, but the shorter maturity would result in total loan interest of around $470,750—an interest savings over the life of the loan of about $1,046,422 vs. the 30-year term.

One more perk: Lenders often charge a lower interest rate for a 15-year mortgage than for a 30-year home loan.

4. You’re Interested in Securing a Fixed Rate

Borrowers may take out an adjustable-rate mortgage because they may get a lower rate (at least initially) than on a fixed-rate mortgage for the same property. But just as the name states, the rate will adjust with market fluctuations.

Typically, ARMs for second mortgages such as home equity lines of credit are “pegged” to the prime rate, which generally moves in lockstep with the federal funds rate. First mortgage ARM rates are tied more closely to mortgage-backed securities or the 10-year Treasury note.

Even though ARM loans come with yearly and lifetime interest rate caps, if you believe that interest rates will move higher in the future and you plan to keep your loan for a while, you may want to consider a more stable fixed rate.

Refinancing to a fixed mortgage can protect your loan against rate increases in the future and provide the security of knowing how much you’ll be paying on your mortgage each month—no matter what the markets do.

5. You’re Considering an ARM

You may also be considering a move in the other direction—switching from a fixed-rate mortgage to an adjustable-rate mortgage. This could potentially make sense for someone with a 30-year fixed loan but who plans to leave their home much sooner.

For example, you could get a 7/1 ARM with a potential lower interest rate for the first seven years, and then the rate may change once a year, when up for review, as the market changes. If you plan to move on before higher rate changes, you could potentially save money.

It’s best to know exactly when the rate and payment will adjust, and how high. And it’s important to understand the loan’s margin, index, yearly and lifetime rate caps, and payments.

6. You’re Considering a Strategic Cash-Out Refi

In addition to updating the rate and terms of a mortgage loan, it may be possible to do a cash-out refinance, when you take out a new loan at a higher loan amount by tapping into available equity.

The lender will provide you with cash and in exchange will increase your loan amount, which will likely result in a higher monthly payment.

If you go this route, realize that you’re taking on more debt and using the equity you have built up in your home. Market value changes may result in a loss of home value and equity. Also, a mortgage loan is secured by your home, which means that the lender can seize the property if you are unable to make mortgage payments.

A cash-out refi may make sense if you use it as a tool to pay less interest on your overall debt load. Using the cash from the refinance to pay off debts carrying higher rates, like credit cards, could be a good move.

Depending on loan terms and other factors, a lower rate may allow for overall faster repayment of your other debts.

7. Your Financial Situation Has Improved

When putting together an offer for a mortgage, a lender will often take multiple aspects into consideration. One of those is prevailing interest rates. Another is your financial situation, like your credit history, credit score, income, and debt-to-income ratio.

The better your personal financial situation in the eyes of the lender, the more creditworthy you are—and the better the terms your loan offer could be.

Therefore, it may be possible to refinance your mortgage loan into better terms if your financial situation has improved since you took out the original loan, especially when paired with relatively low market rates.

The Takeaway

Is it time to refinance? Is the prospect of a lower interest rate or different loan term exciting? Locking in a lower rate now could help you achieve your long-term goals by freeing up cash for other stuff, like retirement or a big vacation.

Sometimes folks spend so much time sweating the small purchases (like the dang lattes) when really, it’s the big money moves—like refinancing—that can make the biggest difference over time.

If you’re interested in refinancing, you may want to look for a lender that’s offering competitive rates and great customer service.

That’s SoFi.

SoFi offers a regular mortgage refinance and a cash-out refinance.

Check your rate in two minutes.



SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

SoFi Home Loans
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. SoFi Home Loans are not available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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Source: sofi.com

MintFamily with Beth Kobliner: 3 Ways Your Kids Will Redefine the American Dream

A friend’s 20-something son shocked his parents with his post-graduation plans: He was moving to Southeast Asia to sell selfie sticks.

Millennials in a nutshell, #amiright?

But who can blame them for taking non-traditional paths, given the poor financial hand they’ve been dealt: record levels of college debt, uncertain job prospects, stagnant wages, and more. It’s why one in three Millennials is deeply dissatisfied with their financial situation, according to a much-quoted new study from George Washington University and PwC.

Findings from a recent Harvard survey cut even deeper: half of Millennials say the American Dream is dead. Yep, that cornerstone of post-war America—the house, the car, the upwardly mobile career track—is about as relevant to them as black & white TV. To parents raised on the mythology of the American Dream, that’s grim news.

But the situation may not be as dire as it appears.

As they’ve done with everything from communications to careers, Millennials are redefining what it means to lead a “better life” (something parents see as key to the American Dream, according to a 2015 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll). This new paradigm is rooted in the experiences of people who came of age after the financial crisis of 2008, and reflects how they see the world. It offers a flexible lifestyle (one that some might see as transient) and a reworking of the traditional measures of success.

Here are three ways that our kids will make their own American Dream—and thrive.

1.  They’ll rethink what college means—and how to pay for it.

Two-thirds of parents say the American Dream includes sending their kids to college, according to a September poll from the youth media company Fusion. These moms and dads are right to think this, as college grads earn about $1 million more over their lifetimes.

For Millennials, cost and career aspirations are informing this major life decision more than ever (call it pragmatism if you want). Gone are the days of selecting a school based on its bucolic campus or dominant football program. Kids (and parents) want more value—and less debt.

That’s why it’s so critical to start the college cost conversation early—like 9th grade-early. Want an incentive? A start-up called Raise.me allows high schoolers—as early as freshman year—to earn “micro-scholarships” from over 100 colleges. Got an A in chemistry? Won the lacrosse playoffs? Volunteered at your local animal shelter? Each awesome achievement can earn your kid $500 to over $1,000 from various colleges. Even “mayor” of Millennials Mark Zuckerberg backs it: Facebook is one of Raise.me’s main supporters.

Best way to avoid the college cost guessing game? Fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)—the key to scholarships, grants, work-study, and low-rate federal loans. The form is notoriously long and complicated, but it’s getting better! Starting this year, you can access the FAFSA on October 1, 2016 (up from January 1, 2017). Why the new, early start? It means you’ll be able to auto-fill the form for the 2017-18 school year using your 2015 tax return data. (More details here.)

Parents of kids who excel in hands-on environments can encourage them to consider the growing trend of apprenticeships (a traditionally European idea that’s catching on here in the U.S.), particularly programs offered in tandem with a community college degree.

2.  They’ll understand that owning your own “home sweet home” is only sweet when you can afford it.

In 1986 (back when I was graduating from college!), 76% of young people saw owning a home as essential to the American Dream. Today that’s down to 59%, according to the Fusion poll.

That means your kid is more likely to bunk with you—or rent—than take on a mortgage she can’t afford (so don’t turn her bedroom into a home office just yet). If she does move in with you, make sure she uses this time as an opportunity to save! (And work out any financial details in advance with this helpful guide from eHow.com.)

Renting has traditionally gotten a bad rap, but it lets your kid explore—new towns, new jobs, new people!—without being stuck in one place. Take our selfie-stick seller: his Southeast Asia stint lasted less than a year before he was back in the states and settling into a new city and new gig. Like his fellow Millennials, he’ll probably rent for several years. Buying may not even cross his mind until his early 30s. A Zillow study shows the average first-time homebuyer is now 33, up from 29 in the 1970s. Of course, you’ll want to talk to your kid about the realities of owning a home, including how to sock away a chunk of money for a down payment once she’s ready.

3.  They’ll value happiness and independence over a huge paycheck.

The entrepreneurial goals of Millennials can sometimes seem a little, er, lofty (like the selfie stick plan that didn’t exactly take off), but thankfully, many are starting to pace themselves.

A study from Upwork, a company that helps businesses find freelance workers, showed that 62% (mostly Millennial) freelancers planned to work a full-time job and moonlight on the side for two years before quitting to follow their dreams. Two years may not be a magic number (a specific financial goal would be safer), but at least they’re earning—and learning—prior to taking the leap.

Today’s young people aren’t all work and no play, either. Millennials’ drive for success, salary, and even entrepreneurial goals pales in comparison to their desire to spend time with family and friends, which they rank as “one of the most important things” in their lives, according to the Harvard survey.

The takeaway? We’re raising a generation that demands independence, flexibility, and a true work/life balance. Perhaps that’s the new American Dream.

Sounds like something we can all believe in.

How do you define the American Dream for your kids? Tell me on Twitter using #NewAmericanDream.

© 2016 Beth Kobliner, All Rights Reserved

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Beth Kobliner is the author of the New York Times bestseller Get a Financial Life, and is currently writing a new book, Make Your Kid a Money Genius (Even If You’re Not), to be published by Simon & Schuster. Visit her at bethkobliner.com, follow her on Twitter, and like her on Facebook.

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Competing Against Multiple Offers on a House

For every piece of property on the real estate market, there could be anywhere from zero to infinite buyers who are hoping to call it home. OK, “infinite” is a stretch, but multiple-offer scenarios can be common when the race is on to purchase a new home.

Which house hunter comes out with keys in hand, however, depends on many circumstances.

Whether it’s a hot seller’s market or a slowly simmering buyer’s market, knowing how to handle a multiple-offer situation can help homebuyers beat out the competition.

Multiple Offers in a Seller’s Market

A seller’s market means the demand for houses is greater than the supply for sale, causing home prices to increase and often giving sellers a serious advantage.

It can get pretty competitive for those who need to buy a house, and multiple offers on a house become the new norm.

Seller’s markets and their state of multiple offers can happen for a few reasons:

•   More houses typically go up for sale during peak homebuying season in the summer, so seller’s markets are more common in the winter when inventory is low.
•   Cities that see steady population growth and increased job opportunities often experience a higher demand for housing, leading to multiple interested buyers making offers on limited inventory.
•   A decrease in interest rates could mean more people are able to qualify for mortgages, causing an uptick in homebuyers that might work to the seller’s advantage. More interested parties can mean more negotiation power.

Multiple Offers in a Buyer’s Market

In a buyer’s market, there’s a greater number of houses than buyers demanding them. In this case, homebuyers can be more selective about their terms, and sellers might have to compete with one another to be the most sought-after house on the block.

In a buyer’s market, house hunters typically have more negotiating power. The number of offers on the table is usually lower than in a seller’s market, and the winning bid is often lower than the listing price.

Are Buyers’ Agents Aware of Other Offers?

Unless house hunters are buying a house without an agent, there are certain cases where the buyer’s agent could be tipped off to other offers on the house.

A lot of it depends on the strategy of the sellers’ agent and whether it’s designed to stir up a bidding war with obscurity or transparency. Either way, the sellers and their agent could choose to:

•   Not disclose whether or not other buyers have made offers on the property.
•   Disclose the fact that there are other offers, but give no further transparency about how many or how much they’re offering.
•   Disclose the number of competing offers and their exact terms and/or amounts.

It’s up to the sellers and their agent to decide which strategy works best for their situation and, according to the National Association of Realtors® 2020 Code of Ethics & Standards of Practice, only with seller approval can an agent disclose the existence of other offers to potential buyers.

How Do Multiple Offers Affect a Home Appraisal?

After all that energy is expended trying to beat out other buyers, what happens in the event of an all-out bidding war? Some buyers may be tempted to keep increasing their offer to one-up the competition. Unfortunately, this could lead to drastically overpaying for the house.

In these cases, buyers can add an appraisal contingency to their offer, asserting that the appraised value of the property must meet or exceed the price they agreed to pay for it or they can walk away from the deal without losing their deposit.

But what about in competitive seller’s markets when making contingencies could mean losing the deal? In those cases, buyers might have to put down extra money to bridge the gap between what their lender is willing to give and what they offered.

How Can Buyers Beat Other Offers on a House?

There are a few things homebuyers can do to improve their odds of winning when there are multiple offers on a house, though certain tactics may vary based on the local real estate market or specific circumstances.

A Sizable Earnest Money Deposit

Earnest money is a deposit made to the sellers that serves as the buyers’ good faith gesture to purchase the house, typically while they work on getting their full financing in order.

The amount of the earnest money deposit generally ranges between 1% and 2% of the purchase price, but in hot housing markets, it could go up to 5% to 10% of the home’s sale price.

By offering on the higher end of the spectrum, homebuyers can beat out contenders who offer less attractive earnest money deposits.

Best and Final Offer

Going into a multiple-offer situation and expecting a negotiation can be tricky. It’s typically suggested that buyers go in with their strongest offer, one they can still live with if they lose to a contender—aka they know they gave it their all.

In some cases, sellers deliberately list the home for less than comparable sales in the area in an attempt to stir up a bidding war. By going in with their highest offers, buyers could end up paying what the house is actually worth while still winning the deal.

All-Cash Offer

By offering to pay cash upfront for the property, homebuyers effectively eliminate the need for third party (lender) involvement in the transaction.

This can be appealing to sellers who are looking to streamline the sale.

Waived Contingencies

Whether it’s offering the sellers extra time to move out, waiving the home inspection, or ensuring that their current residence is sold before making an offer, potential homebuyers can gain wiggle room when they start to waive contingencies.

Contingencies are conditions that must be met in order to close on a house. If they’re not met, the buyers can back out of the deal without losing their earnest money deposit.

By waiving certain contingencies, buyers show that they’re willing to take on a level of risk to close the deal. This can be appealing to some sellers.

Signs of Sincerity and Respect

Because many sellers have nostalgia for their home, buyers who show sincerity, respect, and sentiment may score extra points.

By writing a letter that lays out what they love about the home and engaging in positive interactions with the sellers and their agent, buyers can put themselves in a more favorable light that could lead to winning in a multiple-offer situation.

An Offer of Extra Time to Move

In some cases, sellers might appreciate (or even require) a bit of a buffer between the closing date and when they formally move out of the house.

By offering them a few extra days post-closing without asking for compensation, flexible buyers can get ahead of contenders who might have stricter buyer possession policies.

A Mortgage Pre-Approval Letter

Most offers are submitted with a lender-drafted letter that indicates the purchasers are pre-qualified for a loan.

A pre-approval letter can take it a step further by showing that the buyers are able to procure borrowed funds after deep financial, background, and credit history screening.

Pre-approval signifies to some sellers that the buyers can put their money where their mouth is, lessening the possibility of future financing falling through.

Kick-Starting the Homebuying Process

One way for house hunters to get a leg up in the homebuying process is by ensuring that their home loans are secured in advance.

With competitive rates, exclusive discounts, and help when you need it, SoFi mortgage loans make the first part of competing against multiple offers a whole lot easier.

Get a leg up and find your rate in two minutes.


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

SoFi Home Loans
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. SoFi Home Loans are not available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

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How Sarah Earns $5,000,000 A Year With Shopify

Today, I have a fun interview to share with you that will show you how to start an online store. I recently had the chance to interview Sarah Titus of Million Dollar Shop and SarahTitus.com, who explains exactly how to start an online store and make extra income. If you want to learn how to make passive income, this is a great option!

How Sarah Earns $5,000,000 A Year With Shopify #howtostartanonlinestore #makeextramoney

How Sarah Earns $5,000,000 A Year With Shopify #howtostartanonlinestore #makeextramoneyHere’s her easy-to-understand definition of what she does:

An online store is the same thing as your local grocery store, except that it’s online. So you go to your grocery store, you see a bunch of products and you buy them. Same thing here. It’s a digital store. So instead of buying celery, you’re buying printables that help you organize your entire life, that create calm in the chaos for you.”

If you are looking for a new business or even just a side hustle, learning how to start an online store may be something that you want to look into.

Check out the interview below for more information. She answers questions such as:

  • How much money she currently earns
  • How much time this takes her
  • What exactly an online store is
  • What you can sell with an online store
  • How she finds customers

And much, much more!

Read below to learn more.

Related articles on how to start a Shopify store:

1. Please give us a little background on yourself, how you started your online store, and how it’s going for you right now.

I was walking by my husband’s phone and he got a text. For some reason, it caught my attention and I looked at it. It was from a girl. She was saying she loved him.

My whole world, tears, came crashing down in an instant. He ended up taking my debit cards, then physically abusing me. I had ¼ tank of gas and had to get away. I called a local Pastor who helped me get out safely and ended up living in a homeless shelter with my two babies.

Fourteen years of marriage, down the drain in a millisecond.

After I got out of the homeless shelter, I got my first apartment. I was bent on not working outside the home. My kids ALREADY lost their dad. I wasn’t going to let them lose ME TOO!

I did what I knew. I sold on eBay. I’d go to yard sales, pick up stuff to resell. I’d get things, whatever I could, to survive and be home with my little ones.

I started doing pretty well. Making enough to pay all my bills. Then, I started niching down on eBay to selling Littlest Pet Shop toys. I was the highest paid Littlest Pet Shop toy seller in a market with over 40,000 ads on any given day.

My store on eBay was thriving. I was doing really good, and I learned how to sell something better than my competitors. I would dress them up like Barbies. Ship in pretty organza bags so they felt like they were getting a GIFT. I gave them coupons for future purchases ($10 off $50). I created a free website for Littlest Pet Shop coloring sheets, wallpaper, games, everything. I created a Pinterest account to drive traffic to my eBay store for Littlest Pets.

I was making good money ($18,000 a year at the time). Things were great.

But I wasn’t satisfied in my SOUL, you know what I mean? I was feeling like, selling a toy doesn’t change the world. It doesn’t help people.

I wanted to do more with my life. Be more.

So, I started blogging. Friends were asking me a ton of questions about how I was making income from home and living so well on so little.

They told me they were making $60,000 a year, yet here I was, making $18,000 a year and I had way more than them. WHY? HOW? They asked. Each question they asked, I turned into a post and that’s how I started blogging.

A few years into blogging, I was making really good money. Six-figures/year at that point, but I wanted to not have to work so much. Yeah, I was making six-figures, but I was working 80-120 hours a WEEK (yes, a WEEK!) for three YEARS straight.

I thought to myself, if I ever DO get married, I’m sunk. I can’t even date someone. I’ll never get married because I’m too busy always working my guts away. I wanted a different life. A life that could be more autopilot. I had this dream that, if I ever got married again, I’d make enough, passively, that we could travel or do whatever. We wouldn’t be tied to the computer working so much. And he could be home with me, as a family.

So, I took six months to start closing loose ends and systematizing everything. Once I got a handle on things, I wanted to sell my first product, a Blogging Binder. I put it on Podia but it didn’t sell but a couple copies.

I sat there in the middle of the night contemplating, what will I do? Give up? Is it the binder? No one likes it? I decided to make one last ditch effort, put it one more place. Through a google search, I found Shopify and tried that. It sold 52 copies! Just the platform alone did that!

My Blogging Binder released on May 9, 2017 and by June 17, 2018, it had sold 13,667 copies. Just that ONE product. No shipping, no envelopes, no lost in the mail, no post office fees. I’ve been able to keep a lot more profits than when I sold physical items. Plus, it’s not like eBay, where they nickel and dime you for everything. With Shopify, it’s one small low-monthly cost and a tiny transaction fee (for the debit card processing part). Easy peasy!

2. How much do you currently earn through this?

Within my first month on Shopify, I made $52,060!

I knew pretty quickly into it, I hit on something pretty major. All those 21 years on eBay paid off in Shopify. I knew how to market, how to sell, how to give discounts, how to treat customers, and most importantly, how to set up a store in a way that GETS people to give you their debit card number and BUY!

Since opening my store in the middle of the night on June 1, 2017, I’ve made $6,481,108.60 to date (July 12, 2019). I make $5 million a year currently in Shopify.

What started out as a bad situation, turned into something much better than I ever thought imaginable. It sucks about my ex-husband.  I’ve been blessed more than I ever thought possible.

Opening a Shopify store for me, has been one of the best things I’ve ever done in my entire life! 😊 Not just because of the money, but because now I don’t have to work a bunch of crazy hours. I’m truly FREE!

3. How much time do you dedicate towards it?

Between me and my team members, we work a combined 16-20 hours at the moment (this number includes everything I do: my blog, the store, courses, etc.)

I work around 9-10 hours a week myself. I do work on printables sometimes online as a hobby, but it’s just goofing off or stuff I wanna do. I WORK 10 hours a week. 😊

Mostly, I only have to MAINTAIN the store now. In the beginning, I had to put more time into it because I was creating products to sell. Now, I just create one new binder every month. It takes me 2-3 days to create a new binder usually. If it’s a really hard one or super lengthy, a week, but on average, it’s just a few days to create.

Binders for me, are what I use to GET people to the store as well as to stay on my list. I give the binder free for the first three weeks, then charge for them.

Outside of that, it’s just email support, which is VERY low because I have most all of that automated. This helps keep the customer service requests down so I can spend my time creating more products. 😊

The last thing I do for my store is email my newsletter list. Most of the time, it’s just about getting them to the store with the free binder and they do the rest. They see other things they like and buy them or there’s a deal in the header bar at the top of the site that gets sales. So, I just focus on that and it’s not salesy or pushy in any way. They build up my reviews and then because of the reviews, others come along and buy.

My audience also sometimes pays for things that are free. They are seriously sweet. They say they receive so much free stuff from me, they wanna pay. It’s the sweetest thing ever.

I don’t do any paid promoting at this time. I would like to get into Facebook ads soon, but right now, how I get all my sales is simply giving out free stuff and coupons to drive traffic to my store.

Related: How One Blogger Grew His Blog to Over 2 Million Visitors In A Year

4. What exactly is an online store? Can you explain this more for those who have no idea? Do you have to be a blogger?

An online store is the same thing as your local grocery store, except that it’s online. So you go to your grocery store, you see a bunch of products and you buy them. Same thing here. It’s a digital store. So instead of buying celery, you’re buying printables that help you organize your entire life, that create calm in the chaos for you.

You can sell absolutely anything you want to (within reason, not illegal stuff, etc. obviously) 😊 in your store and best of all, you own it. It’s stable because it can’t be taken away from you!

You don’t have to be a blogger to sell on Shopify. But if you want to start a blog, you can have a separate blog, or you can even have your blog on Shopify, which is great as well.

The only upside there to having a separate blog while selling on Shopify is that Google tends to send more traffic to a great SEO’d website over a shop, but one of my friends gets just as much traffic as me to JUST her Shopify blog/store, as I do to my separate blog and store.

So if you’re just starting to set up a store, I wouldn’t recommend setting up a blog at the same time. It would be too complex. Just focus on one at a time and then add another as time goes on if you want them separate.

Either way, you do not have to be a blogger, as long as you promote your store. You have to have a way to drive traffic to it. That could be on social media, YouTube videos, talking to friends about it, handing out business cards, handing out fliers. I mean, there’s a bazillion ways to get traffic to your store, ESPECIALLY if you offer something FREE!!! 😊

5. Is Shopify easy to use?

Shopify is THE most easiest thing I’ve ever learned to do online. No kidding. I literally remember setting up my shop in around 5 minutes and was like…am I done?

I was actually done. Then, it was just about making things pretty and professional and using my knowledge of how to get sales and get those conversions.

That’s the part that no one seems to know. And using my 21 years’ experience on eBay, I know EXACTLY what to put and where to make people feel comfortable enough to buy my stuff. Your store is like a map. You need them to come and buy, not come and leave and it’s all about HOW YOU SET IT UP that matters. 

It’s easy to set up. But so many people set up a Shopify store and never make more than fifty bucks.

There is a lot more than goes into it. People are giving you more than their email address. They are giving you their home address, phone number, and debit card number.

Do you just give that stuff out to anybody?

No, right?

Neither will your customers. You have to set up your store in a way that makes them feel SAFE. Like they TRUST your site and YOU. So you have to set it up very specifically or sadly, it won’t convert. All of that is taught in my Million Dollar Shop® course. 😊 

How to get reviews, how to set up reviews so you get them and why it’s so important, how to set up your store so they buy, what free apps to use that’ll make your life so much easier, what bylines and legal verbiage you need to use to protect yourself, how to systematize your store to keep customer service requests low, how to set up products and what to say to get people to buy, and so much more is included in that course! I go through it all. Absolutely everything you need to know to run and have a successful Shopify store.

Click here to check out Shopify.

6. What can a person sell? Where do you find products when starting an online store?

You can sell literally anything you want (within reason). There’s a list here of things a person CAN’T sell on Shopify here under the B.5 section. Things like drugs, copyrighted stuff, gambling, pornography, get rich schemes, etc. These are all outside to scope of what any of us would want to sell.

But for example, if I wanted to sell Littlest Pet Shop toys again today, I’d have my OWN store on Shopify rather than go through eBay, where there’s SO much competition. Having my OWN store, makes the sales come easier (if it’s set up properly) because I’m not fighting anyone else for that sale. The buyer is just seeing MY stuff at the time. I have their full attention.

However, after selling physical products for SO long, I highly encourage you to sell digital products instead. There are far lower overhead costs with digital products. You don’t have to worry about shipping, people not getting orders, things breaking in the mail, a wrong order being sent out, cost of the product, shipping costs, gas to pick up or find items to sell, etc.

Some people try to drop ship as well. I find most of those stores fail. Most drop shipping (99.9%) is just a scam. The other, legit 0.01% is not worth it because of the things mentioned above. I’ve seen a lot in my years of making money online and wouldn’t touch drop shipping if my life depended on it. It’ll just ruin your credibility and it’s not something YOU own. You can’t control it when they ship the wrong order and you lose a customer because the customer gets mad. I’d stay away from drop shipping. You just don’t want a business that relies so heavily on someone else like that. If they go out of business, your whole empire you built is gone in an instant.

For me, I sell printables. If you don’t know how to make printables, I have a full course where you get to sit side by side with me and watch as I create them from start to finish! I show you the entire process. It’s one of my favorite courses, because it’s so much FUN. Creating printables is addicting for me. It’s the most funnest thing ever and I get really into it. 😊

One of my other courses, Top 13 Things To Sell in Shopify (That Makes the Most Money), is a great course if you’re trying to determine which path is right for you to sell. It covers the top 13 most profitable things to sell on Shopify and then gives a bird’s eye view of good, working strategies of HOW to go about selling that particular thing successfully.

7. How does an online store owner find customers?

This is the fun part! You can find customers in any way you want!

There are a bazillion and one ways to find people who will fall in love with your stuff and pay you to have it. You’re only capped by your imagination really, but the first thing you’ll want to do is establish how YOU want to go about getting traffic to your store.

The easiest way is to work off what you already have going for you. So, if you have a blog already, add a store and drive traffic that way. If you have social media pages or groups, drive traffic that way.

Another way to drive traffic is by paying for advertising. This is something that I haven’t ever done yet (I hope to in the future, but haven’t yet). Things like Facebook ads or Instagram ads would work great.

Likewise, having an Instagram account for your store is a great thing to do. One of my friends, makes $5k/month in her Shopify store consistently and she drives traffic from her blog, her newsletter, and she created a cool Instagram account specifically for Instagram. She says she gets most of her sales from Instagram (she does a mix of posts and little videos showing how to use her products).

Social media is great! You can create YouTube videos (unboxing videos, product videos, etc.) For me, I have videos that show the printables like a book with the pages turning. I show how to create those specific videos in the Million Dollar Shop® course under the products section.

Another way to drive traffic is by installing an affiliate app. You can get affiliates to help spread the word. I don’t currently have affiliates on my store as I just sell way too much to keep up with what I have now, but I know there are some affiliate apps out there worth giving a shot to.

After a while, you become known and people remember you. For my site, direct traffic is the #1 way I gain traffic. People remember, know me, and come back, and they’ll do the same with you.

The best overall way that I’ve personally found to drive traffic to my shop, is to give away something highly valuable to other people. For me, that’s a 100+ page binder. They like it, sign up for my newsletter, and instead of giving them some download straight from my blog, I make them order it free, using a discount code, in the store.

This gets them used to the process of ordering in my store, they already have an account, etc. so the next time they want to order, they are already in the system and feel comfortable using the platform and have no reservation purchasing.

My returning customer rate is really high. In the past 30 days, it’s at 70.2% and I’ve gotten 8,775 traffic sessions (this is sessions, not pageviews).

You definitely want to strive to get repeat customers because it’s MUCH easier to sell something to the same person then selling something to a completely new person. However, you do want new customers too, so a good balance is what you want to shoot for.

I personally shoot for no more than 75% repeat customers. This means I’m getting at least 25% of people in the store that are new and I’m growing, gaining traction, and getting new word of mouth sales. You can determine your own goals and what works best for you. When I first started, it was near 50/50 and that’s a great balance too. 😊

Both the Top 13 Things to Sell in Shopify and Million Dollar Shop® courses go over how to get traffic in a much deeper way.

8. How much does it cost to start this type of business and how much on a monthly basis to maintain it?

It doesn’t cost as much as you’d think. A Shopify store is only $29/month and that includes a blog if you want it. Then they have super tiny transaction fees by PayPal when you make a sale. If you want additional apps, those can vary in price. I use several apps, which I go over in Million Dollar Shop® and only pay $15/month in apps.

Then, when you start making $1k/month+, you’ll want to move to the $79/month Shopify plan because that includes better analytics. You can see how much sales you’re making for each product and that helps you determine what KIND of products to create MORE of.

All in all, it’s very inexpensive. They don’t nickel and dime you like some other platforms do and if you ever get stuck, they have 24/7 chat support, which is a really great feature that most other companies do not offer.

Another great thing is that they give you the theme free. They have many themes to choose from and I’ve BETA tested a few of them and share all my findings in the Million Dollar Shop® course. A free theme on Shopify is great, so that’s another thing you don’t have to worry about paying for.

If you want to save even more money, you can talk to chat and they can give you deals if you purchase by the year or 2 years, etc. Since my store is extremely stable and makes me a lot of money, I bought the 2-year plan and it saved me some significant money.

When you’re just starting out though, you’re only looking at $44/month + tiny transaction fees based on the price you sell your item at. Shopify gives you a generous 14-day free trial period to take it for a spin too and get things set up before you have to start paying, which makes it super nice.

9. Are there any other tips that you have for someone who wants to learn how to start an online store?

I think the main thing is really deciding if starting a store is right for you and if it is, going for it full throttle. Not saying, “Well, if it works, it works, if it doesn’t, it won’t”. That kind of wishy-washy attitude won’t get anyone anywhere. You have to be bold and just jump in!

Having your own online store is such a fantastic way to earn money. In my 20+ years of making money online, I’ve quite literally seen everything, and this is by far, THE BEST way to earn money the fastest and easiest, that I’ve ever seen.

Think about it. After 20 years of my selling on eBay, I was making $3k/month. After 2 years blogging, I was making $23k/month. After 2 years on Shopify, I’m making $5 million/year.

The other ways of earning money are fantastic and nothing to sneeze at, for sure (!!), there’s just a lot more POWER and profitability when earning money in a store. It’s also the fastest way to go. If you start a store today, you can be earning money by this afternoon. With other options, it takes more time to set up, to establish yourself, etc.

They are all great ways to earn money, but I believe that Shopify has a lot more power to make money quicker. If you wanna make money online, that’s the way to go, for many people.

10.Why should a person take a course on this subject? Is it hard? What will they learn with your course?

The truth is that a lot of people set up Shopify stores and they think they can go it alone. But they can’t. They crash and burn and never get any sales and wonder why.

The problem is because they haven’t laid the proper foundation. Even if they try to mimic or copy me, they don’t know WHY they’re doing what they are doing. Not having that knowledge of WHY do this or that or how to make their own decisions of how to determine what works best for them, isn’t going to make someone succeed.

Another problem is that, some people try to start a store on their blog and use plug in stores like WooCommerce, etc. Those plug in stores, out of all the people I’ve coached, I’ve only seen it work for ONE person and that’s because her husband is an engineer!

100% of the people I’ve coached, who’ve started out on a store plug in on their blog, move to Shopify and they INSTANTLY start making more sales. This is because customers TRUST Shopify and PREFER THEIR checkout over other solutions. My last customer I worked with, made 400% more just by switching platforms (WooCommerce to Shopify). Like my own fail with Podia, it really IS all about the platform and how you set it up.

After you set up your store on the right platform and in the right way, you need to begin your strategy of how to get people to your shop and how to get sales. Million Dollar Shop® teaches all that, from start to finish. It guides you through the entire set up process, then teaches you how to get sales, in a hand-holding friend style.

Then, if you want to sell printables and don’t currently create them in professional software (that’s key to your sucess) or don’t know how to make them, How to Create Printables, is the perfect course for you.

Million Dollar Shop® trainings (the whole platform) has sold over 40,000 products to date. These courses aren’t just something put up by someone, somewhere online. They are taught by someone who’s been in e-commerce for 21 YEARS and have been tested by tens of thousands of students to work! 😊 You just can’t get this information anywhere else. It’s a complete system that I created myself and have perfected over the years.

P.S. You can get 15% off by using the code MAKINGSENSE15.

Are you interested in starting an online store?

How To Start A Blog FREE Email Course

In this free course, I show you how to create a blog easily, from the technical side (it’s easy – trust me!) all the way to earning your first income and attracting readers. Join now!

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Source: makingsenseofcents.com

2017 Financial Predictions (and what it means for our wallets)

As we ring in the New Year, financial resolutions top our to-do lists, from saving more to finding a new, better-paying job and getting out of debt once and for all.

As you map out your next money move, take heed of some of these top market and economic predictions for added guidance.

Higher Borrowing Costs

Looking to open a new credit card or apply for a mortgage this year? It may be wise to act sooner than later.

With the broader economy improving since the financial crisis (e.g. the national unemployment rate is hovering at 5%, down from nearly 10% in 2009), economists, including Janet Yellen, chairwoman of the Federal Reserve, believe it’s time for a tightening of monetary policy (translation: boost interest rates to curb inflation.)

Fortune Magazine’s “Crystal Ball,” says we can expect a three-quarter-point increase by next Thanksgiving to 1.25%.

When the Fed raises the overnight bank-lending rate (aka the Fed Funds rate) that typically has a domino effect on interest rates for other mainly short-term financial products like credit cards and car loans.

What this means for us? If you’re in the market to borrow money, I recommend reviewing your credit ahead of any applications to see what improvements (if any) are necessary. The higher your credit score, the better chances you have of achieving the lowest interest rates on the market.

If you’re seeking to refinance or buy a home this year, also aim to lock in a rate as soon as possible. While an increase in the Fed Funds rate isn’t necessarily a precursor to higher mortgage rates, we’re already seeing an uptick on 30-year home loans to above 4%. And Fannie Mae’s National Housing Survey shows that more than 50% of consumers think mortgage rates will continue to elevate over the next year.

Finally, for those of us with adjustable rate loans (e.g. some student loans and mortgages) we may want to pay off our debt more aggressively or refinance to a fixed-rate loan to put a lid on rising monthly payments down the road.

Less Sticker Shock in Housing

With home loan rates expected to track north, home values may see some cooling in 2017. That’s because when mortgage rates jump, demand for housing tends to slowdown, placing pressure on sale prices.

Not to mention, after riding a hot streak in recent years with prices across the country hitting near pre-recession levels, real estate experts at Zillow.com now predict a “normalizing” market with more moderate price growth of 3.6% across the country in 2017, compared to 4.8% last year.

Prepare for more affordability in areas that have experienced the steepest gains. In Los Angeles, for example, home prices have trended considerably higher in recent times (up 7.3% over the past year, alone). In 2017, though, the city can expect a tempering of home values to a growth of just 1.7%, according to real estate website Zillow.com.

As for rentals, after double-digit surges, rents in many large metro areas will also see slower growth in 2017, per Zillow. Rents across the country are expected to rise approximately 1.7 percent this year to about $1,429 per month, down from a 6% appreciation reported last year.

Partly to blame for the cool down in rent is a glut in inventory. Builders were very busy over the last few years, but the demand for new units in some hot neighborhoods like Brooklyn, N.Y. is failing short of supply.

As a result, some landlords at higher end luxury apartment buildings in that borough have been striking sweet deals with renters since last summer, The New York Times reports.  For example, at 7 DeKalb, a new high rise in Brooklyn, “the landlord is offering two months of free rent with a 14-month lease, and use of the building’s fitness center and other amenities for a year without charge.”

That’s a good reminder to prospective renters everywhere that it can never hurt to negotiate, especially this year!

Have a question for Farnoosh? You can submit your questions via Twitter @Farnoosh, Facebook or email at Farnoosh@farnoosh.tv (please note “Mint Blog” in the subject line).

Farnoosh Torabi is America’s leading personal finance authority hooked on helping Americans live their richest, happiest lives. From her early days reporting for Money Magazine to now hosting a primetime series on CNBC and writing monthly for O, The Oprah Magazine, she’s become our favorite go-to money expert and friend.

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Source: mint.intuit.com

When to Consider Paying off Your Mortgage Early

Maybe you saved up money over the past few years, got a hefty raise, or received an inheritance. Whatever the reason, you now have the means to pay off your mortgage early. Isn’t that the best move? It just depends.

It can be tempting to rush to pay off your home loan when you have the ability to, especially if you’ve struggled with debt management. And why wouldn’t you want to pay off your mortgage? Getting rid of debt could potentially increase cash flow.

When it comes to your mortgage loan, it all depends on your unique financial situation—there is no one right answer.

Why You May Not Want to Pay Your Mortgage Off Early

Here are a few reasons why many consider not paying their mortgage off early:

You have a reasonable interest rate on your mortgage loan. Unless you’ve reached all of your financial goals, it may not make the most sense to pay off your mortgage early when you have a competitive interest rate.

For example, if you are saving to send your child to college or you’re trying to rebuild your emergency fund after a home repair, those might take priority.

Paying off your mortgage loan early would deplete liquid savings. This could make it more challenging to handle financial emergencies.

You might face a prepayment penalty. Make sure to review your mortgage terms closely. Some lenders charge an early payoff penalty, usually a percentage of the principal balance at the time of payoff.

You might miss out on the mortgage tax deduction. For many people who itemize, having a mortgage helps push their itemized deductions higher than the standard deduction. It’s worth discussing the mortgage tax deduction with your accountant or other tax professional before you resolve to pay your mortgage off early.

When an Early Payoff May Make Sense

There are some situations when paying off a mortgage early might make more sense than waiting.

You’ve Met All of Your Financial Goals

If your emergency savings account is right where you feel it needs to be and you’re diligently contributing to your retirement accounts, you may feel like all of your financial boxes are checked right now.

If you’ve met all your other financial goals, then you may be in the clear to prepay your mortgage.

You’re Interested in Being 100% Debt-Free

Sometimes just the idea of having loan payments can be mentally taxing, even if you’re in a good place financially. Money is not just about numbers for many; it’s also about emotions.

So if paying off your mortgage loan early relieves anxiety because it’s helping you become debt-free, then that might be something to consider.

Of course, reflecting on why you want to become debt-free is important when thinking about paying your mortgage off. If, for example, it’s because you’re approaching retirement and will no longer be getting a steady paycheck, it might make sense to pay off your mortgage.

Ways to Pay Off a Mortgage Early or Faster

Let’s say that you’ve decided to prepay your mortgage because it’s the right financial move for you. How do you do it?

Lump sum. You could pay it off in a lump sum if you have that kind of cash lying around.

Extra payments. You could potentially pay more toward your mortgage each month, whether because you got a raise at work or because you’ve trimmed some fat in your budget that allows you to pay more toward the mortgage.

If you make higher payments or extra payments toward your mortgage, it could lead to paying off the loan faster than if you were just to make the set payment each month.

Refinancing. There is one more way you may be able to pay off your mortgage faster: refinancing.

Refinancing your mortgage means replacing your current mortgage with a new one, with terms that better suit your current needs.

It may make sense to refinance if you are going to get a significantly lower interest rate and/or change your loan term.

If you shorten your loan term from, say, 30 to 15 years, it may increase your monthly payments but in turn allow you to pay your mortgage off faster. Home loans with shorter terms often come with lower interest rates, too, so more of your monthly payments will be applied to the loan’s principal balance.

The Takeaway

Should you pay off your mortgage early? Maybe. What’s right for your neighbors or friends may not be right for you. If you’re trying to decide whether to refinance, consider your current lender’s terms and the new terms you could get. Then you can make an educated decision based on your financial picture.

Mortgage refinancing with SoFi means getting a competitive rate.

And finding your rate takes just two minutes.

Interested in refinancing your mortgage? Apply with SoFi today.



SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

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Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. SoFi Home Loans are not available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

MG18124

Source: sofi.com

I Guess I Spoke Too Soon!? No Deal on $700 Billion Bailout.. Yet.

Yesterday I posted the news that we had all been waiting to hear. Congress had finally come to an agreement and had settled on a bailout deal to help jump-start our faltering markets.

The price tag? A mere $700 billion dollars.

At the announcement of proposed deal the Dow Jones industrials enjoyed a 196-point gain to close the day.

And then news started trickling out last night that the deal – was certainly no deal at all… yet.  From the AP

Sen. Richard Shelby, of Alabama, the top Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, emerged from the session to say the announced agreement “is obviously no agreement.”

House Republicans have been balking at the proposed deal. The deal, they say, is too expensive and it places too much of the weight of the bailout on the taxpayer’s shoulders.

One group of House GOP lawmakers circulated an alternative that would put much less focus on a government takeover of failing institutions’ sour assets. This proposal would have the government provide insurance to companies that agree to hold frozen assets rather than have the U.S. purchase the assets.

Rep Eric Cantor, R-Va., said the idea would be to remove the burden of the bailout from taxpayers and place it, over time, on Wall Street. The price tag of the administration’s plan to bail out tottering financial institutions — and the federal intrusion into private business matters — have been major sticking points for many Republican lawmakers.

When looking at the price tag for the bailout, it does make one wonder why other options haven’t been explored. Why is it automatically assumed that we the taxpayers MUST foot the bill? And is this huge $700 billion bailout really all necessary?  Would we be able to give things a helping hand with say – half that amount?

What IS agreed upon is that we have some serious problems right now, and something needs to be done.

There is wide agreement the U.S. economy is in peril, with financial institutions going under or near the edge and recession looming along with the resulting layoffs and increased home foreclosures.

“All of us around the table … know we’ve got to get something done as quickly as possible,” Bush told reporters, brought in for only the start of the meeting. Obama and McCain were at distant ends of the oval table, not even in each other’s sight lines. Bush, playing host in the middle, was flanked by Congress’ two Democratic leaders, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

McCain and Obama later said they both still expected an agreement could be reached.

Under the accord announced hours earlier among key lawmakers, the Treasury secretary would get $250 billion immediately and could have an additional $100 billion if he certified it was needed, an approach designed to give lawmakers a stronger hand in controlling the unprecedented rescue. The government would take equity in companies helped by the bailout and put rules in place to limit excessive compensation of their executives, according to a draft of the outline obtained by the Associated Press.

What form would you like to see any proposed bailout take? A $700 billion taxpayer financed bailout where the government takes over troubled assets, or something more along the lines of the government providing insurance to those companies willing to hold onto the assets?

Source: biblemoneymatters.com

My 8 Year Blogiversary: How I Made Money Blogging In July 2019

How I Made Money Blogging From Home In July 2019 #howtomakemoneyblogging #howtomakeextramoney

How I Made Money Blogging From Home In July 2019 #howtomakemoneyblogging #howtomakeextramoneyWelcome to July 2019’s business report where I show you how I made money online and traveled full-time last month. It’s time to look at this month’s update and see how I did.

If you’re new to Making Sense of Cents, you may be wondering why I would want to publish my business report each month.

This all started out as my extra income report because, in the beginning, it was all about the money I was earning from my side jobs. In my side income reports from the beginning, I included all of the income I made except for what I made at my day job.

However, I left my day job as a financial analyst in October of 2013 and now my monthly business reports consist of the many ways I earn a living with my business.

Many have asked why I would ever want to publicly talk about what I’m working on each month. Some think I’m crazy, whereas some are glad I’m open about what I’m doing. Whatever you think, I enjoy publishing my monthly business reports and I share them publicly for three main reasons:

  1. Before I started blogging, I knew nothing about side hustling and making money online. I didn’t think side jobs were worth the effort and I thought the only way to significantly increase your income was through raises at your full-time job. If it weren’t for others publishing their monthly income reports, I don’t know if I would have ever tried side hustling. I want to help show others the positives in side hustling and how it can change a person’s life. There are many different ways to make money online, and I like to share my story each month to help motivate others to improve their financial situation by making more money.
  2. Secondly, I like to publish my business blogging reports because it’s a way for me to look back, learn from my mistakes and actually see what areas need improvement. I use my monthly blogging reports as a way to track how I’ve done and it helps to keep me accountable.
  3. Lastly, I like to show others that making side money is possible and that there are many legitimate ways to make money from your home.

I know I say this every month, but it’s the truth. Life is great now that I’m my own boss and a full-time blogger. I look forward to each and every day and it’s a wonderful feeling. I truly love waking up every single morning.

Above are just a few of the reasons for why I enjoy publishing my monthly income reports. I like to show others that you don’t have to hate your job and hate your life. You can make changes to your life and make money in a way that allows you to truly enjoy the life you are living. I’m not saying that you have to LOVE your job, I’m just saying that your job should, at least, allow you to do what you like to do outside of work (whether that be spending time with loved ones, doing crafts, hiking, etc.).

A quick reminder on the recent announcement.

I want to repeat the announcement again because I have been asked – How I Made Over $1,500,000 In 2018 – Is This The End Of Income Reports? so that no one is confused. I’m sure I’ll receive many questions from readers who missed it.

How was business income in July of 2019?

In case you are new to this blog, the main areas I earn a living from include:

I regularly earn over $100,000 a month blogging, and I have earned over $5,000,000 from my blogging business total over the years.

Check out How I Successfully Built A $1,000,000+ Blog for all of the different ways you can make money through a blog.

July of 2019 was another great month for Making Sense of Cents and the whole blogging business. I earned a great income and enjoyed my month. In fact, it was an amazing month!

I have many plans for the rest of 2019, and I have a jam-packed to-do list that I am very excited to start crossing off and accomplishing. I am wanting to grow Making Sense of Cents in many areas – income, readers, more helpful blog posts, and so on.

Some of the things that I plan on doing in order to grow Making Sense of Cents include:

  • Focusing on SEO. I will be taking an SEO course soon from start to finish, in order to start growing Making Sense of Cents in this area. I tried a few years ago, but stopped. While I get decent traffic from SEO without much effort, I do think this area can be a great way to further grow my website.
  • Learning about Pinterest advertising and Facebook advertising. I would like to use social media advertising to grow traffic as well as to grow my email list.
  • Adding an online shop to my blog. I would like to create a shop for Making Sense of Cents, where I sell products such as printables.
  • Creating new optins. I don’t have many optins for my email list, and haven’t added a new one in quite some time. This is currently on my to-do list so that I can reach new readers and gain more subscribers.

The month was great in many areas – blogging, course-wise, life, and everything else. The business is doing well and I’m very happy with it. My business is doing well, I have a lot of ideas for the year, and I am very excited about everything. I really love my business and I don’t know where I would be without it.

Below are some of my monthly online income reports. I publish an online income update every month but only included some of them below as it would be a very long list. If you head on over to my income page you can find all of my monthly income reports from the past few years.

  • $672 extra in May (2012)
  • $6,523 in January Extra Income (2013)
  • $11,927 in October Income – I Finally Left My Job (2013)
  • $12,640 in January Income (2014)
  • $23,758 in February Income – My Monthly Online Income Report (2015)
  • How I Made $300,000 Online In 2015
  • How I Made $979,321 In 2016
  • How I Made $1,536,732 In 2017
  • How I Made Over $1,500,000 In 2018

If you are interested in starting a blog of your own, I created a tutorial that will help you start a blog of your own for cheap, starting at only $2.75 per month (this low price is only through my link) for blog hosting. In addition to the low pricing, you will receive a free website domain for the first year (a $15 value) through my Bluehost referral link if you purchase, at least, 12 months of blog hosting. FYI, if you are asking yourself “can you make money blogging?” – my top tip is to be self-hosted. This is essential if you want to monetize your blog as you will appear more professional and this will help you monetize your blog tremendously. My blogging income did not take off until after I switched to self-hosted WordPress.

Follow our travel adventures on Instagram. 

Blog/life news

July was a fun month! We finished up our long chore list on the boat and secured it for hurricane season. We are now living in our van for the next couple of months and have been having a ton of fun.

In case you missed it, you can read more about it here – We’re Going To Start Living In A Van!

We’ve been outdoors a ton since we moved into the van, and it’s been amazing! We’ve climbed eight 14,000+ foot mountains in just the past month, have mountain biked several times, and more. It’s been great to get back in the mountains, and it’s making us even more excited to get back to the boat in a couple of months too.

And…

August marks 8 years since I first started Making Sense of Cents. It is just so crazy to think about how much life has changed since I first started this website.

I started this blog and worked on it in addition to my full-time day job as a financial analyst, and around two years after I started, I quit my day job to blog full-time.

Blogging changed my life for the better, and it allows me to earn a great income, all by doing something that I love.

You may have heard this from me before, but the funny thing is that I created my blog on a whim after reading about a personal finance website in a magazine. It started as a hobby to track my own personal finance progress, and I honestly didn’t even know that people could make money blogging!

I knew absolutely nothing about blogging and I didn’t have any goals for Making Sense of Cents.

In case you are new here, I used to work as an analyst at an investment banking and valuation firm. I chugged along working the 8-5, Monday through Friday grind and didn’t see myself having an enjoyable future there. I had a stressful job filled with lots of deadlines and responsibilities that just didn’t interest me. Yes, I know this is the norm for some people, but I just couldn’t imagine myself living like that for 40+ years.

Blogging was an outlet for my stressful day job, and my interest quickly grew, even though it was just a hobby. It gave me space to write about my personal finance situation, have a support group, to keep track of how I was doing, and more. I did not create Making Sense of Cents with the intention of earning an income, but after only six months, I began to make money blogging.

A friend I met through the blogging community connected me with an advertiser, and I earned $100 from that advertisement deal. That one deal sparked my interest in taking my blog more seriously and learning how to make even more money blogging.

Today, I earn a great income from my blog, and it all started on a whim, not even knowing that blogs could make money.

Blogging completely changed my life for the better and just thinking about how everything has improved over the last eight years is an insane/wonderful thing to think about.

Blogging has allowed me to take control of my finances and earn more money. It means I can work from home, travel whenever I want, have a flexible schedule, and more!

I have had some of the most amazing experiences ever since building my blog – I have lived and traveled across the U.S. in an RV, bought and now live on a sailboat, and take some pretty incredible vacations!

And, all of this happened because I started some random blog eight years ago.

I made so many mistakes, and I still make mistakes today. But, I continue to learn and improve, which has shaped this blog into what it is today.

I was so afraid to quit my job when I did, especially for a blog.

So many people thought I was absolutely crazy and making the worst decision of my life. Especially since my husband quit his job at the same time!

It’s now been almost six years since I worked for someone else.

When I sit back and really think about it, I am still in disbelief that starting some blog has led me to where I am today.

Thank you all for being here and being wonderful readers!

Below are several other business and blog-related updates:

  • I’m currently around one month ahead in blog posts. I would like to be around 2-3 months ahead. I do have several months of blog posts planned, though, I just need to finish writing them and hand them to my editor.
  • Traffic for the month was over 400,000 page views.
  • I am working on a series where I will help readers with specific financial questions, and tutorials to go along with them. Topics such as: How to open a bank account, How to write a check, Finding an online bank, Building and creating an investment account, etc. What other topics would you like to see me cover?
  • My community group for Making Sense of Cents is continuing to grow. This is a Facebook group in which you can seek advice from other readers on all sorts of topics such as finance, blogging, travel, running a business, and so on. There are already over 15,000 members!
  • I released my How To Start A Blog FREE Course. If you’ve been wanting to start a blog, then check this out. I created this email course for those who are interested in starting a blog, but haven’t done so yet. The course is free, and over 50,000 people have already signed up. Thank you, everyone, for the kind emails about how great the course is. Glad everyone is enjoying it!
  • Due to how well my first free course went, I also created the free Master Your Money email course. It’s full of great money management lessons and financial worksheets (such as a free budget template), and I’m loving the positive response from this email course as well.
  • Other freebies I have include 10 Easy Tips To Increase Your Affiliate Income and 8 Easy Tips To Make Money From Sponsored Posts On Your Blog.

Popular new posts on Making Sense of Cents last month:

Featured Question: How do you have internet while traveling full-time?

I feature one question from a reader in each monthly income report. Please leave a comment below if you have a question that you would like me to answer. 

I hear this question all the time, and it’s one of the top things that stops people from traveling more.

And, I completely understand the hesitation!

When we first thought about traveling full-time, I had no idea what would happen to my business. I didn’t know how I would connect to the internet, if it would be super expensive, or anything else. I didn’t even really know if it was possible.

I still remember telling Wes (my husband) that I would not be able to travel full-time unless we had internet, and I just did not even think that it was possible.

But, now I know it’s actually not too bad. There is usually some form of internet, and I almost always use my own source. It’s not terribly expensive either. Yes, sometimes there is absolutely no internet. However, I usually try to prepare for that by working ahead as much as I can.

We currently have AT&T for our phones and internet. We used to have both Verizon and AT&T (many full-time travelers have multiple sources because you travel to different areas), but we switched to just AT&T and have been happy with it.

Even with that being said, sometimes our internet connection is not that great. This means I always try to work ahead as much as I can so that a lack of internet or a bad connection doesn’t create any stress.

I did just get a WeBoost which I have put on the van so that I can improve my signal and work in more places. Since living in a van means we will be off the grid a little more often, this will be a must for us so that I can still work! So far, it has been amazing and I have been able to have internet almost everywhere that we’ve been due to the WeBoost. About half of the places that we have stayed so far in the van have had no internet, and the WeBoost has boosted our signal to something where I can actually work! I don’t know how I’ve gone the previous 4 years of full-time travel without it!

And, surprisingly, I’ve found that internet is better in the Bahamas than anything we ever had in the U.S. while traveling full-time. We used a new company called MyIslandWifi. It is truly unlimited internet for just $75 a month (and there’s no contract!). I can make phone calls, text, and hop online whenever I want, and it’s always a fast speed. For people in normal homes, this may seem expensive, but keep in mind that when traveling full-time you don’t have access to affordable (and FAST) wifi that is usually found in a home.

When we start going further outside of the US and Bahamas, I know that internet will be more difficult. I’ll update you as I go along!

If you’re wanting to know more about the various options (and there are a lot of options!), I highly recommend RV Mobile Internet.

Everyone’s situation is a little different and different options exist due to that.

Past featured questions:

My plans and goals for my blog and my business.

I have so many plans right now for my business that sometimes I feel like I don’t know where I want to start! But, that is a good feeling to have.

Plans and goals can help you run a successful business. I believe that working towards a goal can help keep a person motivated too.

Below are some of the areas I am currently working on:

  • Complete the Facebook Ads For Bloggers course. There are two courses that I am really wanting to finish so that I can continue to grow Making Sense of Cents. Learning about Facebooks ads is so important and I think I will benefit from this course a lot.
  • Complete the Stupid Simple SEO course. This is the second course. SEO is something I just have never really spent much time on, so I know that this course will be extremely helpful! I’m hoping to finish the above course and this one by the end of the summer.
  • Create a freebie optin for affiliates to share for Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. I have been asked by several affiliates for this, and I’m glad to finally start working on it! This is a great thing to do because my affiliates can easily promote my course with this freebie optin, and then be credited for future sales. For me, as an affiliate for other products, freebie optins are usually the very first thing I promote (as well as my favorite) because it’s a great way to introduce an audience to a new product/service/company.
  • Get at least three months ahead on Making Sense of Cents posts. Being ahead in blog posts makes life much more enjoyable because I can focus on other things knowing that the majority of my writing work is already done. This is one of my major 2019 goals!
  • Work less than 30 hours per week. For the most part, I am working less than 30 hours per week. However, there are some weeks when I spend all day and night on my laptop, not even sure where the day went. Due to that, I would like to continue to work on a better work/life balance.
  • Be more present. My main goal in 2019 is to be more present, and I recently wrote about it here – My Quest To Be More Present And Enjoy Life More. I’m excited for the year of travel and sailing we have ahead of us, and I want to enjoy it as much as we can. I’ve been so focused on the business the last several years, that I want this year to be focused on life outside of business. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE running Making Sense of Cents, and that’s what makes it so hard to break away and be more present outside of work.
  • Have fun. Okay, so this isn’t really a goal that is quantifiable or something that I’ll track, haha, but I am really looking forward to 2019!

Affiliate marketing results.

Affiliate income was at a normal Making Sense of Cents level in July of around $60,000.

It will be increasing in August and the following months as I will be promoting a few affiliate offers to my readers. I have the rest of 2019 planned for affiliate offers, which is great. I am also currently planning and booking for 2020 already too!

I’m also hoping to improve my affiliate income by growing my traffic through SEO, as well as advertising on Facebook and Pinterest.

Some of the areas that I am working on to improve my affiliate income include:

  • Planning out 2019 for affiliate offers. I’m not really much of a huge planner, but I am changing that in 2019. I already have affiliate promotions planned out for all of 2019. This will help to keep me organized and better prepared.
  • Learning about SEO and applying techniques to my blog. This past guest post has me super interested in starting to take SEO seriously – The exact template that helped my site earn $95,000 in affiliate income last year.
  • Using Facebook ads to my affiliate marketing advantage. This past guest post also has me interested in growing in this way as well – How One Blogger Grew His Blog to Over 2 Million Visitors In A Year.
  • Creating a high-quality funnel. Funnels are something that I have never really spent any time on, but I would like to change that. I want to create a high-quality funnel where I continue to give valuable information to my readers, and keep them happy for the times when I may not have the greatest wifi.
  • Continuing to grow the reach of Making Sense of Cents. Traffic has been a little stuck lately, and I want to change that! I want to see what I can do to grow the traffic, as that will help me to reach new readers.
  • Analyzing popular affiliate blog posts to see how they can be improved for the future.
  • Seeking out new affiliate products to promote, and seeing what my audience is interested in.

And more!

Earning affiliate income is something that I’m extremely grateful for, especially lately. We have been so busy lately and I haven’t spent as much time on the business as I would normally like.

Even though I am spending less time on the business, I am still earning a great income each month and this allows me to focus on a better work-life balance.

I’m a very big fan of affiliate income, of course. It’s something that I enjoy due to how passive it can be. It makes full-time traveling much more enjoyable when I know I can bring in an income while having fun seeing new areas.

If you want to learn more about affiliate marketing, I recommend getting the free guide 10 Easy Tips To Increase Your Affiliate Income. With this time-saving cheat sheet, you’ll learn how to make affiliate income from your blog. These tips will help you to rapidly improve your results and increase your blogging income in no time.

I also have a course too!

In the course Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, there are 6 modules, over 30 lessons, several worksheets, bonuses, an extremely helpful and exclusive Facebook group, and more. I go through everything that you need to know about affiliate marketing, such as:

  • A quick introduction to affiliate marketing and how it works
  • The exact steps I’ve taken to earn over $500,000 from a single blog post
  • How to correctly pick affiliate products to promote
  • The steps to increase your conversion rate
  • 80+ affiliate program ideas for different niches
  • How to build trust with your readers (this is a MUST!)
  • The required disclosures you need to know about
  • The many different strategies to promote your affiliate links

My course is anything and everything about affiliate marketing. This course is perfect for you whether you are a new blogger or if you’ve been blogging for years, no matter what topic your blog is about, what country you live in, and so on.

Sponsored partnership results.

July was an average month for sponsored partnerships. I secured a couple of deals with new advertisers that I’m excited to work with, and I’m thinking that the fall months will be quite busy as well.

For some reason, sponsored blog posts and sponsored social media ads seem to scare bloggers, whether they are brand new or have been blogging for years.

What do I charge? How do I find companies who will want to work with me? What are the rules?

There are SO MANY QUESTIONS when it comes to sponsored posts.

I started Making Sense of Cents in August of 2011, at the age of 22, without any hopes of ever earning an income from it. It started as a hobby – just a way to journal my life and talk about my personal finance situation.

Then, around six months after I started my blog, a blogger friend of mine connected me with an advertiser and I earned $100 from that advertisement.

It wasn’t a lot of money, especially considering the amount of time and work I had already put towards my blog. However, it was very motivating to see that something I absolutely loved to do could actually make money. I honestly had no idea that blogs could even make money when I started mine!

After that first $100, my blogging income quickly grew.

I now charge, on average, around $5,000 per sponsored post.

You can learn more about sponsored partnerships in my free guide 8 Easy Tips To Make Money From Sponsored Posts On Your Blog.

Are you interested in earning blogging income?

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