11 Ways to Earn Extra Cash

You’ve heard a million different ways to ‘earn cash from home’ but none quite as creative as these. Having extra cash is never a bad idea, MensHealth gives us different ways to earn extra cash.

earn extra cash

 1. Gig Yourself Out

Can you write a catchy jingle? Translate Mandarin? Design a killer company logo? Figure out what you’re good at and put it up for sale on Fiverr. “We live in the gig-economy—especially the younger generation,” says Kyle Taylor, who blogs about cool ways to make money on ThePennyHoarder. “People are stringing together a lot of different gigs to make extra money with side jobs.”

The payout: Sellers on Fiverr offer unique services—everything from writing press releases and crafting poems to offering animal care and doing voiceover work—ranging anywhere from $5 to $500.

 2. Become a Professional Friend

If you’re an affable guy that likes to meet new people, you can make some extra cheddar just by being friendly. RentAFriend is a strictly platonic “friends-for-hire” website that allows users to select a friend for an event, a tour around town, or an evening at the movies. The website has over 100,000 unique visitors a month and over 2,000 paid members who browse the site looking for some good, old-fashioned companionship.

The payout: Some friends charge up to $150 for an hour, but the average hourly rate is $20 to $50. According to RentAFriend, if you work part time—3 days a week—and charge $20 per hour, you can make an additional $1900 per month.

 3. Turn Your Car into a Billboard

If your daily commute is a complete drag, turn it into a money-making operation. Companies such as Adz in Motion and Free Car Media will pay you for displaying ads on your car. But Taylor warns that these companies are extremely selective about who they work with. They choose based on the make and model of the vehicle, as well as the driver’s geographic location. There are also several car-wrapping scams out there, so do your research to find a legitimate service before you commit to anything.

The payout: If you do get selected to participate, you could earn as much as $400-$500 per month. Some smaller campaigns that include a simple decal instead of a full wrap can earn you $50 per month.

 4. Download Apps

It doesn’t get much easier than this: Just download a few apps, let them sit on your smartphone, and watch the money roll in. Taylor says installing Media Insiders Paneland Google Screenwise can add up to a couple hundred bucks each year. “These are mobile apps that run in the background on your phone,” he says. “They don’t track calls, but they do provide data to Google and other companies about how long you stay on websites and how often you’re using Facebook to help them make better marketing decisions.” Although it’s not NSA-caliber spying, users who download these apps do need to be comfortable giving up their data to companies for market research purposes.

The payout: If you install Google Screenwise on your computer, smartphone and tablet, you’ll be offered an $8 first-week incentive, plus $2 every week for staying with the program. Using the Media Insiders Panel will earn you up to $15 each month from Tango Card. Rewards for these programs come in the form of gift cards, but installing both apps can earn you $295 in rewards per year.

 5. Rent Your Space

If you have an extra parking spot in your driveway or a big empty basement in your house, you can rent out your space to make ends meet. Websites such as StoreAtMyHouse and ParkAtMyHouse allow you to advertise your unused space online and attract renters. Parking spaces can be especially lucrative if you live near a sports stadium or a commuter rail line. Or, if you have an extra room in your house or an apartment above your garage, put it up on Airbnb to attract out-of-towners looking for a place to stay.

The payout: It depends on what you’re renting out and where you’re located. For prime driveway or parking space, you can make up to $200 per month. Average listings for attic or basement space on StoreAtMyHouse range from $50 to $200 per month. Airbnb rentals can go from $40 a night for a room rental to upwards of $1,500 a night for a luxury home.

 6. Participate in a Mock Jury

Can’t get enough of Law & Order? Get in on the action. These fake trials help lawyers test out arguments or reach settlement agreements before real cases go before a judge. You can find opportunities online, but “the ones where you go to a lawyer’s office usually pay better,” Taylor says. “They sit you in a room with 10 to 12 other people and they give you an abbreviated version of a case that may or may not come to trial. Then, like a real jury, you deliberate and come to a decision.” Before you’re selected to participate in a mock trial, you’ll be asked several demographic questions, since law offices are often looking for a diverse pool of people.

The payout: Online mock jury trials could pay as low as $10 per trial or up to $50 per trial. However, a trip to your local law office could net you around $100 for a few hours—plus free lunch. (Score!)

 7. Be a Gym Rat

If you can’t go a day without pumping iron, download GymPact app (free for iOS and GooglePlay). Each week, you make a pledge for how much you’ll work out. You’ll also be required to state how much you’re willing to pay if you don’t keep your pact. As long as you achieve the goal you set, you’ll earn real cash from other members who didn’t meet their weekly resolutions. GymPact uses GPS, photos, and other services to keep you honest so you can’t lie about your progress. If you already hit the gym on a regular schedule and rarely miss a day, why not earn some extra funds for your effort?

The payout: Rewards generally range from 30 cents to $5 per week depending on the number of activities you commit and the number of users who don’t complete their pacts. Once your rewards total $10, you can withdraw those funds to your PayPal account.

 8. Name a Company

Are you a wordsmith that can come up with catchy names and slogans? You might as well be creative for cash. NamingForce is a website where new companies or products solicit users for name suggestions. Anyone can submit ideas, based on a short description provided by the company. “The cool thing about this is you can submit as many names as possible,” says Taylor. “Some of the larger companies provide bigger prizes that could go up to the thousands of dollars.”

 9. Review Music

If you’re always hungry to find new tunes, you could get paid to listen to music clips through SlicethePie. Music fans can sign up, listen to 90-second sound clips, and write short reviews to help bands and marketers gain insightful feedback. The quality of your review and how often you submit evaluations will determine how much you get paid.

The payout: New critics often start out receiving just 2 cents per review, but as your rank improves and you become more active in the community, you can easily climb up to 20 cents each time out. Once your account reaches $10, you can withdraw the cash to a Paypal account.

 10. Resell Cardboard Boxes

The United States Census Bureau estimates that about 50 million Americans move each year—so think about all of the cardboard boxes that wind up in landfills. You could actually turn those empty boxes into bucks by reselling them through websites like BoxCycle. All boxes need to be in good condition, with their structure intact. If you’re feeling ambitious, call local stores to see if you can take their extra cardboard boxes away, or look for free box listings on Craigslist.

The payout: The bigger the box, the more it’s usually worth. Most companies will pay anywhere between 50 cents and $2 per box. If you manage to move a few hundred boxes each month, it could mean a decent profit—especially if you get the boxes for free.

 11. Sell Unwanted Gift Cards

Roughly $2 billion worth of gift cards go unused each year. This is money that retailers get to pocket! You can now take these excess gift cards you have laying around and turn them into cash. Giftcardrescue.com will buy these cards from you to resell at a discounted price to another customer.

The payout: Dependent on the merchant, the gift card you sell can be bought at up to 90% of its value!

7 Perks of Unemployment

Look on the bright side of things and instead of being negative think about the perks of unemployment from EliteDaily. Saving money during this limbo time is essential. Using discounted gift cards to your favorite hot spots and on everyday needs will help to lighten the financial burden.

Unemployment

1. Sleeping in.

There is a reason kindergartners take nap classes and when you understand the value of sleep (like the value of a dollar), you’ve become an adult — congratulations. Disable that nightmare of an alarm clock on your phone and sleep in. Remember the times you had to give up breakfast and showering in exchange for another half hour of sleep just to be on time for work?

What about the nights when it was impossible to fall asleep, in part because you couldn’t stop thinking about how tired you would be the next morning? You will never complain about your sleeping schedule when you don’t have a job.

2. You will cook (or learn how to cook).

During your employed days, you probably had minimal time for grocery shopping and by the time you got off your late shift, nothing in your neighborhood would even be open. Maybe you quietly cried yourself to sleep because you were so hungry or maybe you settled for the only establishment open — the falafel truck.

I love the falafel truck as much as the next person, but if the falafel guy knew your schedule better than your roommates, you’re probably eating like a first-class hobo. Eating at your favorite restaurant no longer works with your budget, but there’s good news: grocery shopping is significantly cheaper than eating out.

Is getting excited for a BOGO sale at the grocery store deeply sad? Maybe, but consider who has the best snack selection to offer and then tell me who’s a loser. You now have time to cook decent meals.

3. You don’t have an excuse to miss the gym.

If you’ve been ignoring your gym membership because you didn’t have enough time or you were too tired from work, your body probably looks a lot like mayonnaise. When you’re out of a job, you can’t complain about being too tired from browsing the Internet all day or taking really long naps. In the good old days of employment, being tired from work or getting home too late, but still passed as a legitimate excuse. A mildly impressive gym schedule is on the horizon and you must seize it. Now hit the gym, mayonnaise.

4. You find the best happy hours in town.

Just because you can’t afford your previously abundant social life doesn’t mean you’re going to stay at home and cry like a baby about it; you’re going to find the most economical ways to get drunk. You are obligated to make the most of $1 off all drafts or two-for-one cocktail specials. Little gems like this are what keep unemployed people driven and out of bed. Reward yourself for submitting your resume to a sketchy post on Craigslist or following up on an email — it’s been a productive day.

5. You can do the things you always said you wish you had time to do.

There is probably a list in the back of your mind titled “When I Have Time.” You’ve added places to visit, recipes to make, books to read, movies to watch and emails from relatives to answer — but let’s be honest, you’re never getting around to the last one. Take advantage of not having to be anywhere important on a weekday around noon and the lack of anxiety that comes with it.

Don’t feel guilty about cracking open a beer at lunch — you don’t have anywhere to be! Use this unemployment as a break or a really long vacation of personal days and catch up on the things you’ve been putting off — like, responding to your aunt’s email from months ago.

6. You appreciate your home.

Now that you’re home most of the time, you start to appreciate the little things. It’s nice to see your roommates because your schedules actually overlap. Plus, no one will know that that the only time you remove your sweatpants is to shower.

The guilt you once felt for spending so much money at IKEA has passed because now you’re home to actually use the furniture. The only downside is that cabin fever will slowly creep in and make you want to claw the skin off of your face, but don’t worry, that only happens after the second month or so.

7. You will enjoy your next job.

During your time of employment, you didn’t need to worry about paying rent, utilities, buying clothes and sometimes, you even picked up the bar tab for friends just because you could. There is nothing like the security of consistent paychecks rolling in, but was it from doing something found to be gratifying at all? If the job paid less, would you have still worked there?

There is a strange guilt that comes from working a job in which there is no rewarding feeling, only something that shows up in your bank account on pay day. It is a soul-sucking tick on your heart that feeds and grows when you feel worthless. Eventually, it evolves into that really weird stage of a tick’s life when it kind of looks like a raisin with really tiny, short legs and you just don’t want that on you.

If you have a good head on your shoulders, apply to as many jobs as possible and make useful connections so you will not be unemployed forever.

17 Secrets To Increase Your Tax Return

Having extra cash is always a welcoming thought and as April 14th approaches, ways to increase your tax return would be useful information. These tax return secrets from DailyFinance will make the next few weeks more bearable knowing that you are getting the most money possible out of your tax return. Giftcardrescue.com is also looking to increase the amount of cash in your wallet, using discounted gift cards can save you money on all of your everyday needs!

1. Count on retirement account deductions

Retirement account contributions serve two purposes. Most contributions (except the Roth Individual Retirement Account) allow you to deduct from your taxable income the amount paid into the retirement account. This reduces your total taxable income. Further these funds grow tax free until retirement. If you start early, this strategy alone can secure your retirement.

2. Use an H.S.A.

Contribute to a health savings account if you have a high-deductible medical plan. The contributions unused for medical expenses can roll over indefinitely and grow tax-free (similar to the assets in a retirement account).

3. Combine a vacation with a business trip

Reduce vacation costs by deducting the percent of the unreimbursed expenses spent on business from the total costs. This could include airfare and part of hotel bill (proportionate to time spent on business activities).

4. Work the home office deduction

4. Don’t be afraid to take the home office deduction, if you work for yourself or have a side business. This deduction allows you to deduct the percent of your home which is used for your business (on Schedule C, 1040). If the guest bedroom is used exclusively for a home office, and constitutes one-fifth of your apartment’s living space, you can deduct one-fifth of rent and utility fees for your home office.

5. Don’t miss the joys of being self-employed

Self-employed individuals (either full-time or part-time) are eligible for scores of tax deductions. A few of those expenses include business related vehicle mileage, shipping, advertising, website fees, percent of home internet charges used for business, professional publications, dues, memberships, business-related travel, office supplies and any expenses incurred in order to run your business.

6. There’s a special deduction for Social Security

Self-employed individuals who pay 100 percent of their Social Security taxes owed (at a rate of 15.3 percent) can deduct 50 percent of the taxes paid. You don’t even need to itemize to claim this tax deduction.

7. Appreciate the benefits of future depreciation – now

There is one more big-time deduction for those who are self-employed or have a side business. In 2013, you’re eligible for “bonus depreciation” of 50 percent. This means that you can write off 50 percent of the cost of new equipment purchased instead of writing it off over many years.

8. Your car, their miles

Unreimbursed vehicle expenses are another frequently overlooked tax break. You can’t deduct commuting costs, but if you travel to satellite offices or drive your own vehicle for business and aren’t reimbursed, you can deduct mileage costs.

9. Tax credits are gold

Tax credits are great, because they are deducted from the tax owed. American Opportunity Tax Credit is available for all for years of college. You receive a tax credit on 100 percent of the first $2,000 spent on qualifying college expenses and 25 percent of the next $2,000 for a maximum of $2,500 per student. That’s $2,500 deducted from the amount of tax owed (as long as you meet certain income regarding school courses that improve job skills).

10. Never stop learning

The Lifetime Learning Credit is great for adults boosting their education and training. This credit is worth a maximum of $2,000 per year (up to 20 percent of up to $10,000 spent on post-high school education) and helps pay for college and educational expenses that improve your job skills.

11. Remember the Earned Income Tax Credit

The Earned Income Tax Credit lowers the overall tax bill for low and moderate-income working families.

12. Get a discount on sales tax

The state sales tax break gives itemizers the chance to either deduct state income or state sales taxes paid. This benefit is great if you live in a state without income taxes.

13. Add in reinvested dividends

Investors, when calculating the cost basis after selling a financial asset, should make sure to add in all of the reinvested dividends. That increases the cost basis and reduces your capital gain when you sell the investment.

14. Do well by doing good

Charitable deductions are often overlooked. Include payroll deductions (such as the United Way), checks, cash and donations of goods and clothing.

15. A student loan interest loophole

If you are an adult child who is not claimed as a dependent by your parents, here is a possible tax break for you. If your parents pay back your student loans, the IRS assumes the money was given to the child, who then repaid the debt. Thus the young adult child can deduct up to $2,500 of student loan interest paid by their parents.

16. Uncle Sam encourages job hunters

I remember tallying job hunting costs to deduct from my meager tax bill in the past. If you’re looking for a job in the same field, you can deduct all related expenses as miscellaneous expenses if you itemize (and they must pass a 2 percent threshold). You can deduct these expenses even if you didn’t find a new job.

17. Get a credit for getting to your unit

Are you in the military reserves, such as the National Guard? If you travel more than 100 miles from home and need to be away overnight, then you can deduct lodging and one half the cost of meals while you are away. Of course, you can also deduct mileage costs as well.

14 Ways To Put A Ring On It

Popping the big question is undoubtedly a scary part in anyone’s life. How could you say no to these unique proposals to put a ring on it? Check out giftcardrescue.com to get discounted gift cards for retailers such as Tiffany & Co, Kay Jewelers, and more to help you with this life changing event or if you need to sell the store credit you receive for the return.

1. The Tree Lovers

 

 

 

 

 

 2. For those who love their apple products

3.  Lego, and say I do.

 

 

 

 

 

 4. I Pikachu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Find the treasure

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 6. You are the spice in my life

 

 

 

 

 

  7. Out of this world question

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  8. How much do you like S’mores?

 

 

 

 

 

 9. Ben and Jerry have a question

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10. Catch my love 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11. Chicken patty’s are good for the soul

 

 

 

 

 

 

  12. Toy and a ring!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 13. How could you say no?

 

 

 

 

  14. Mr confident 

10 Best Ways to Improve Your Credit

Your credit score is an important tool that is used to determine the amount of credit that is available and at what rate by lenders. A credit score will range from 300 to 850, the higher the number the better your credit. Understanding how to improve your credit score and build credit will help with multiple aspect of your life. Buying a car, house, or even just signing up for a credit card, all require credit checks and analysis to determine the amount of money and at what interest rate you will receive. With these ten tips on how to improve your credit from Howstuffworks.com, you can learn how to get the answer you want from your bank.

Check Your Credit Report

In the United States, credit reports are maintained by three major credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. If you’ve never applied for any form of credit, then you shouldn’t have an open file with any of these agencies.

Before you apply for your first credit card or make an appointment with the loan officer at the bank, check with each of the credit reporting agencies to make sure there isn’t a false credit report open in your name. More than 20,000 children and teenagers were victims of identity theft in 2008 [source: Noll]. It’s possible that someone has already used your name and stolen Social Security number to apply for credit.

If that’s the case, you’ll need to work with the credit reporting agencies to clear your record, particularly if theidentity thief ran up large amounts of unpaid debt in your name.

Credit bureaus will open a legitimate credit file in your name when a bank, credit card company or other lender reports that you’ve had an active credit account for at least six months. All borrowers, not just first-timers, are encouraged to check their credit reports at least once a year and scan them for errors.

Mistakes can damage your credit score for years — up to seven years for negative information like late loan payments and 10 years for a serious default like bankruptcy [source: FTC). If you find a mistake, contact the credit reporting agencies immediately.

Open a Bank Account

Although credit reports are the best way for lenders to rate your creditworthiness, there are other ways to build a record of trust. Bank accounts are a great way for a young adult to prove a level of financial responsibility before applying for that first loan.

Checking and savings account information isn't included on a credit report, but lenders will request it for most loan and credit card applications. Lenders like to know that you have a few years of experience handling your own money and making regular withdrawals and deposits. They also like knowing that you have a steady income.

Several major U.S. banks offer free checking accounts with no annual fees or minimum deposits. Remember, though, that negative bank account activity will appear on your credit report: [source: Burt]. So if you keep a low balance and end up bouncing a check, future lenders will hear about it.

Pay Your Bills on Time

 Since credit reports only track money that you’ve borrowed, they don’t include information about whether you pay your utility bills and monthly rent on time. Likewise, bill payment histories are not used to calculate the most popular credit score — the three-digit number known as your FICO score.

What most people don’t know is that the FICO score isn’t the only credit score available to potential borrowers. Some alternative credit scoring models incorporate bill payment histories as one of the main criteria for creditworthiness.

The people behind FICO — the Fair Isaac Credit Services — recently introduced the FICO Expansion Score, which culls financial data from “alternative data sources” like rent payments and utility checks to determine creditworthiness [source: Fair Isaac Credit Services].

There’s even a company called Payment Reporting Builds Credit (PRBC) that allows you to self-report payments like rent, rent-to-ownpurchases and utilities. PRBC might not yet have the clout of the big three credit bureaus, but a solid report from PRBC might be enough to get your foot in the door with a lender.

Of course, to earn a good grade from PRBC, you’ll have to pay your bills on time religiously. Get into the habit of paying a bill as soon as it shows up in the mail, or consider setting up online accounts to pay all of your bills electronically [source: Burt].

Get a Co-signer

 The nice thing about building credit from scratch is that you don’t have to do it alone. Most lenders will allow someone with an established credit history — like your parents, older siblings or a family friend — to co-sign the credit application with you.

The benefits of co-signing a credit card application or loan application are twofold: The lender no longer has to make a credit decision based solely on your thin credit history and you can “piggyback” on the (hopefully) stellar credit score of your co-signer.

As with any financial transaction, you should be careful when co-signing for credit. First of all, make sure that your co-signer actually has a good credit history. If your older brother tends to exaggerate, don’t take his word for it. In the eyes of the lender, you are only as good as your brother’s credit score, so ensure that you see it in writing.

Also, stick with co-signers who have a clearly demonstrated relationship with you. Family members with the same surname as yours are always the best bet. A lender might get suspicious if you walk in the door with a seemingly unrelated stranger [source: Steiner].

The most important thing to understand is that co-signing for credit means that both parties are now responsible for its timely repayment. If your dad co-signs your credit card application and you run up hundreds of dollars in late payment fees, both of your credit scores are going to take a hit.

Get a Secured Credit Card

A secured credit card is a wonderful way to get your feet wet in the world of credit. Regular credit cards are called “unsecured,” because there’s no collateral backing up the line of credit. With an unsecured credit card, the bank allows you to borrow up to your credit limit without any guarantee that the money will be repaid.

A secured credit card, on the other hand, is tied to collateral held in a bank account. In other words, your credit limit equals your checking account balance or another amount required by the card company — although payments for purchases made with this card won’t be drawn from your bank account. If you have $500 in the bank, then your credit limit for the card is $500. If you try to charge more than $500 on the secured card, the transaction simply won’t go through.

The cool thing about secured credit cards is that you can use them as training wheels for an unsecured card. Most secured credit lenders – credit unions are excellent choices — will let you graduate to an unsecured credit card after 12 to 18 months on a secured account [source: Grant].

Be careful, though: Some secured credit cards carry higher interest rates and fees. Above all, make sure that the secured lender reports to all three major credit bureaus. That’s the only way you’ll build a healthy credit history.

Get a Retailer Credit Card

Another type of “training wheel” credit card is a card issued by a retail store like Macy’s or Sears. In general, retail credit cards are easier to obtain than regular unsecured cards. The downside is that they don’t carry as much weight on a credit report as a normal credit card [source: Pulliam Weston].

As you should with any secured credit card, make sure that the retail lender reports to all three credit bureaus. Make sure you read the fine print: Some retail cards carry interest ratesas high as 30 percent. So if you’re going to use one of those cards, you need to be extra diligent about paying your balance on time.

Some credit experts warn against collecting a bunch of retailer credit cards just to cash in on in-store discounts, particularly around the holidays. Every time you apply for a new card, the lender pulls your credit report. Several hits on your credit report in a short period of time will lower your credit score [source: Ulzheimer].

Another type of retailer card is a gas card or oil company card. These cards can typically only be used to purchase gas or other automotive services, while some allow you to get cash advances at station ATMs [source: Taylor]. Once again, make sure that the card reports to all three credit bureaus.

Get Your First Credit Card

If you’ve gotten your feet wet with a secured credit card or retailer card and have proven that you can pay your monthly balance on time, it’s time to take the plunge. Responsible credit card use is one of the quickest and most effective ways to build a solid credit history.

An unsecured credit card is a “revolving” line of credit. This means that the lender sets a credit limit and allows you to continuously borrow and pay back your balance as long as you stay under that limit. Every month, you’re required to make a minimum payment. Any balance that you carry from month to month will be charged interest.

To build healthy credit with a credit card, you must follow one simple rule: Always pay your monthly bill on time [source: Bills.com]. If possible, pay the balance in full every month. If not, at least make the minimum payment.

There are other credit card traps that can affect your credit score. Try not to carry a balance higher than 30 percent of your credit limit [source: Pulliam Weston]. FICO frowns on borrowers who have a high debt-to-credit ratio.

It’s also better to stick with one credit card rather than constantly trading in for a card with a lower interest rate. Fifteen percent of your credit score is based on the length of time you’ve maintained a credit account [source: AuWerter].

Apply for a Small Loan

Loans are a different kind of credit than credit cards. A loan is what’s known as installment credit, since you pay back the loan, with interest, in set monthly installments. A mortgage or a car loan is a good example of installment credit. If you want to make one of these major purchases someday, it’s a good idea to show lenders that you have some positive experience with installment credit.

For many young borrowers, a student loan is a great way to begin using installment credit. Student loans carry relatively low interest rates and are reasonably easy to obtain. The best part about a student loan is that you don’t have to start repaying the loan until six months after you graduate. The downside is that the loan won’t appear on your credit report until you start paying it back.

Student loans are just one type of installment loan. Banks and other lenders allow you to take out small loans for just about anything: a used car, an appliance, a vacation or even a personal loan. Keep in mind that the lender has the right to say no, so come prepared to make your case.

Get a Good Job and Keep It

On every credit report, there’s a section called “identifying information.” In that section is a place to record employmenthistory. One reason for including employment history on a credit report is to give hiring managers an easy way to verify information on a job application. Another reason is to give lenders subtle information about the character of a borrower.

When lenders examine a borrower’s employment history, they’re looking for stability. If you’ve been at the same job for years and your salary has continually risen, then you’re a good prospect for credit. If you constantly jump from job to job and your salary has been erratic, that puts you in a less desirable position for lenders.

Your employment history is also a good indication of your capacity to repay credit [source: Federal Reserve Board]. A person with a low average annual salary wouldn’t have the same capacity to repay a large credit card balance than someone with a higher salary.

If you apply for a mortgage, salary history is one of the most important considerations that lenders will make. Usually, you’ll be asked to supply income tax forms for the past two years and current pay stubs as proof of your earnings [source: Federal Reserve Board].

Don’t Mess Up!

One of the best ways to build good credit over the long term is to avoid the small and large mistakes that can stain your credit report for years.

Pay all of your bills, loan installments and credit card payments on time. Not only will you pay a fortune in late fees — most credit cards charge over $30 for late payments — but lenders will raise your interest rates for future credit [source: Willis].

Evictions are doubly nasty. If you’re evicted, a collection agency will typically come after you for any back rent. That collection agency will report to the credit bureaus, meaning negative information will now be on your credit report for seven years. Evictions will also show up on tenant screening reports, making it difficult for you to rent future property or secure a mortgage on a future home [source: Sweet].

Avoid bankruptcy at all costs; it’s the credit equivalent of poison. Bankruptcies will mar your credit report for 10 years. Above all, do your best not to cross paths with the law. Criminal convictions stay on your credit report forever (yes, forever). Even arrests that don’t lead to convictions will appear on your credit report for seven years [source: FTC].

10 Ways You Are Wasting Money

If you are looking for extra cash you can look no further than your daily activities that could be wasting money. By cutting out or being more aware of these money draining actions you could direct that money to something more beneficial. Think about what you could do with an extra $200 a month and start saving!

1. Lottery Tickets

There are infinite ways to spend your hard-earned money from day to day, and all of us are guilty of forking over cash (or using credit) for purchases that provide little (or no) true benefits. Some such purchases do provide what you could argue to be short-term benefits, but doing the math of long-term costs for many such purchases (smoking, drinking, gambling) makes them out to be nonsensical wastes of money.

Being in the habit of buying lottery tickets is one obvious waste. People who pony up a few bucks for a record-setting Powerball ticket once in a blue moon are hardly wasting much of their income (though the chances of seeing a return are one in hundreds of millions), but those who buy scratch-offs or lotto tickets on a weekly or daily basis are uniformly throwing money down the drain.

2. Smoking

Smokers are not only shooting themselves in the foot by increasing the likelihood of significant medical bills down the road, but they also spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on cigarettes each year. A pack-a-day smoker of a brand costing $5 will spend over $1800 on smokes in a single year.

3. ATM Fees 

If you pay a $4 surcharge at an ATM to withdrawl cash once a week, you will have thrown away more than $200 over the course of a year simply for not planning ahead.

4. Traffic Tickets 

Aggressive driving and bad parking habits come back to bite your wallet and provide nothing in return. You’re willingly handing money over to the government simply, because you are impatient, irresponsible or just plain careless.

5. Botox Injections 

If you fall into the trap of spending big bucks on Botox injections in the pursuit of everlasting youth, don’t go crying when your face ends up looking like a ventriloquist dummy.

6. Concession Stand Beers 

There are millions of people who will argue that money spent on alcohol is not a waste. (I, for one, wouldn’t disagree.) All the money spent going to bars can cause you to think twice when you consider how much cheaper it would be to drink at home, but you can justify the spending by saying you’re paying for the experience of a night out. However, it’s hard to justify paying for the outrageous prices you are forced to pay if you want a beer or drink when you go to a major concert or sporting event. Dropping $9 or $10 for a 16-ounce beer at a concession stand is a waste when you can buy a 6-pack or 12-pack elsewhere for the same price.

7. Unused Gym Memberships 

Gym memberships are either a wise investment or a total waste of money. If you’re truly motivated to be healthy and actively take advantage of your membership, then the money you spent was one of the most beneficial decisions you could have made for yourself. However, if you’re like a large population of Americans, at some point you paid up for a membership, made an effort a handful of times and never returned to the gym. The math balances out if you routinely exercise, but if you never go, it can end up equating to you having paid several times over what single sessions would have cost.

8. Gold Grills 

If you’re one of the precious few people in the world who think gold grills are fashionable mouth bling, then you’ll probably argue that getting a grill is well worth the money spent. The rest of us will tell you that you’re dead wrong.

9.Credit Card Interest 

Buying things on credit seems like it could be beneficial when you are low on funds, but in reality the insane interest you are paying makes those purchases far more expensive than they were in the first place. Should you fail to keep up with your payments as so many of us are prone to doing, the amount of debt you’ll acquire will make you wish you’d never have gotten a credit card in the first place.

10. Inefficient shopping. Not taking advantage of discounted gift cards online can cost you hundreds of dollars each month on basic needs. By using websites such as, giftcardrescue.com you can purchase gift cards for up to 35% on stores that you visit everyday.

With these tips from ChaCha saving a little bit of extra money every month won’t be as big of a hassle as you thought.

5 Investments with Healthy Returns

Retirement might be what comes to mind when you think of investing but there are things you should be doing now to help elongate your life. Here are some investments with healthy returns that you should consider incorporating into your life plan.

1. Take that long planned vacation

Mediterranean Diet

Stewart Fogel, M.D. says ” Take a trip to Tuscany or somewhere else along the Mediterranean”, it could save your life. The Mediterranean diet is said to be one of the healthiest in the world. Traveling to the countries that experience this diet on a daily basis could bring the statistics to real life experience. A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine, shows that those that eat fish, fruits, vegetables, olive oil, nuts, and red wine are at a reduced risk of heart attack, stroke, and heart disease.

2. Plot your health info

track your health

 Make a habit of entering all your blood analysis data into a tracking app. Organize all this information in order to keep track; trend lines and graphs are easy ways to visually see the changes in your overall health. Nutritional biochemist, James Scala, explains that “weight and blood sugar are two key components of adult-onset diabetes, and they usually trend together. By tracking them over a period of years, you’ll be able to alert your doctor and act more quickly”. By tracking your health information you can take a proactive approach to your chronic health problems and seek information before you are diagnosed.

3. Invest in your nutrition

 Nutrition

Poor eating habits and lack of educating yourself on nutrition are the foundation for illness and disease. Consulting a certified nutritionist is usually your best option; they have up to date training and have an advanced degree from an accredited university. Don’t rely on what your doctor tells you, where they will give you a pill, a lot of minor health problems can be resolved by improving your diet.

4. Be a quitter

 smoking

If you have bad habits like smoking or drinking alcohol, kick it to the curb. Smoking can cut more than 10 years off your life. But according to Men’s Health Magazine, if you can quit before 40 you can drastically improve the quality and quantity of years in your life. Replacing cigarettes with nicotine patches and group therapy is usually the most successful way to kick the habit.

5. Move to a healthier city

run

When thinking about relocating, consider the health and happiness of the people that live in that area. The healthier everyone around you is, the more influenced you will be to improve your health. There is a list of 78 quality of life indicators that include health care, cultural opportunities, and transportation convenience. Check out successfulaging.milkeninstitute.org for this full list.

10 Common Habits of Productive People

There are only so many hours in a day, and trying to get everything done is impossible. By being more productive, and using your hours more efficiently, can lead to your success. Everyone talks about being more productive and the importance of improving productivity, but figuring out how can be a challenge. These tips from EliteDaily, are sure to increase your productivity level.

via May

via May

1. Regular Sleep Schedule

Our bodies are systems of habit. We like to get what we expect. This goes for our physical body as much as for our mind. A regular sleep schedule with sufficient hours of sleep (six to eight is ideal) will do wonders for your productivity. If you want to reduce stress and feel better overall, get some sleep and get sleep regularly at regular hours throughout the week.

2. Regular Workout Schedule

Not all productive people are health freaks, but they do all understand that for the mind to work at its maximum potential, the body requires physical exercise. You don’t need to spend hours at the gym, but if you can get 30 minutes every day of either cardio or calisthenics, you will love yourself for it and you will gain massive improvement in productivity. Ride a bike to work for a nice change of transportation and added exercise.

3. Working in Blocks

Efficiency is the backbone of productivity. Since we are limited to 24 hours in a day, shaving off a few minutes here and there can easily add up to an extra hour or two a day, which can be used for other purposes. One of the best ways to cut lost time is by working in blocks. It takes you time to unpack your laptop, get comfortable and to mentally prepare before you get in the zone and focus.

When you sit to get work done, group together three to four tasks that can be done in one sitting (may not be possible if tasks take more than 30 minutes each) and get them done in succession.

4. Avoidance of Meetings

Meetings are incredible time killers. Why? They are always too long and, more often than not, completely off topic. If you can avoid meetings, do so. You can surely have a coworker fill you in on all the important topics covered, and as I mentioned before, there will likely be few things to mention. If you do need to attend or hold a meeting, make sure that the topics of discussion are clearly outlined beforehand and distributed to all attending parties. Then set a specific time — no longer than 30 minutes — and never go over the allotted time.

5. Scheduled Down Time

We can’t run on high forever — doing so will literally kill you; it’s been done before. Take a look at Mozart. He killed his immune system by overworking and then died of what now is believed to be strep throat. You need to slow down from time to time and just chill; you are only human. What chilling entails is up to you. I sometimes like to just lie down and stare out the window for a bit of pure relaxation.

6. Meditation

It isn’t just for yogis. You don’t need to sit cross-legged on the floor, but allowing your mind to clear itself is necessary if you want to push yourself to your limits. Your mind is not just an important tool; it’s THE tool. Treat it well and it will treat you well in return. Our minds often seem to be running on autopilot — this can’t be allowed. You need to control your mind and thoughts as much as possible or risk getting lost in your stress and unnecessary worries.

7. Selective Social Interaction

Friends are a tricky topic for the extremely productive. We need to stay social to stay sane, but socializing often takes up more time than we can afford. The best method to practice is avoidance of all individuals who do not add to the joy in your life and focus on those who do. If you don’t care for them, ignore them. Not nice? Who cares? You clearly don’t and ignoring them will force them to find real friends. It’s a win-win situation.

8. Hydration and Vitamin Intake

Drink water, lots and lots of water – preferably at least half a liter at the moment of waking up and then another two liters throughout the day. Most Americans are chronically dehydrated.

Avoid drinking anything but water, coffee and tea. Sugar isn’t your friend. Vitamin supplements are also important. Most of us don’t eat a well-balanced diet and even when we believe we do, there likely is some nutrient we aren’t getting enough of. You need to feel good to work hard. Vitamins and water will help get you there. Also, be wary of too much caffeine. It dehydrates you and increases stress levels overtime.

9. No Differentiation between Work And Life

Work is your life because work is your passion. If your work isn’t your passion, only a means of getting to your passion, then take it as a necessity and look at it in as positive a light as possible. Your work doesn’t suck because it is getting you to where you want to be. It’s necessary and unavoidable if you want to get to where you want to be, for the life you wish to lead.

Don’t distinguish between work and life. It is one in the same and the sooner you accept that, the sooner you can release all that negativity you feel every time you think about all the work that needs to be done.

10. Positive Outlook with Constant Worst-Case Scenario Planning

Always think positive and never, ever allow negativity to make its way onto the scene. It takes practice, but over time you can become a very positive person. Make plans for the worst-case scenario, but avoid making lengthy plans for the best-case scenario. No scenario ever plays out the way you think it will and planning in too much detail is a waste of time.

Plan for the worst, plan for the next step you need to take. Focus on one step at a time and you will never be overwhelmed by the journey ahead of you. Only move from point A to point B and then plan for point C. Planning the next step doesn’t take as much time as most people think; it only takes time when you are trying to plan 80 steps ahead.

Eighty steps, which, by the way, are imaginary due to the fact that you never know the outcome that will present itself. Stay positive and only make short-term plans.

11 Ways to Eat Healthy on a Budget

Who has time to think about eating healthy with the millions of things that need to be done in a day? Study’s show however, that parents pay a crucial role in their children’s eating habits for their life and eating healthy is essential for obtaining your ideal health and fitness goals. Trying to eat healthy on a budget is a challenge but with these tips from HuffingtonPost, you can find that balance between your budget and your grocery bill.

1. Buy locally and in season. Buying in season means fresher, more delicious, nutrient-denser, probably local, and most likely less expensive foods. Asparagus peaks in spring, while blueberries are ripest in summer. Learn which foods match with the season to boost your health, support local growers, and save a few bucks in the bargain.

2. Buy frozen and stock up. I simply forgot about it: I bought several heads of organic cauliflower, had a change in dinner plans, and the poor things just wilted in my fridge crisper drawer. Darn it: Seven bucks down the drain! Frozen foods eliminate that problem and save you money. You can buy weeks’ — months’ — worth of frozen kale, raspberries, and other favorites to store in your freezer, so you always have essentials for soups, shakes, stews and side dishes.

3. Skip convenience foods. Knowing you’re short on time, supermarkets cash in on pre-sliced veggies, trimmed-and-cleaned chicken breasts, and pre-cooked — well, just about everything. Once I realized pre-prepped broccoli florets cost twice as much as organic broccoli heads and I could buy a whole bird for the same cost as four tiny chicken breasts, I decided saving a little time wasn’t worth spending a lot more money. What making foods from scratch demands in time often saves you in money.

4. Less meat, more plant-based foods. Loaded with nutrients, high-quality protein and essential fatty acids, grass-fed beef and wild-caught salmon are among your best food bargains. They often aren’t cheap, especially if you’re trying to feed a family of four or more. Stretch your food dollar by loading more of your plate with inexpensive, filling leafy and cruciferous veggies, good fats like avocado, and slow-release high-fiber carbs like quinoa and legumes.

5. Start your day with a protein shake. Time and lack of appetite are two excuses people sometimes use to either skip breakfast or order a cheese Danish with their gargantuan dark roast. One meta-analysis of six studies found a nutrient-fortified meal replacement shake could “safely and effectively produce significant sustainable weight loss and improve weight-related risk factors of disease.” For less than a designer coffee, you can create a filling, fat-burning non-soy plant-based shake with frozen raspberries, freshly ground flaxseed, kale or other leafy greens in unsweetened coconut or almond milk.

6. Join a farmers collective or co-op. More cities now have food co-ops where you volunteer your time for reduced-cost produce as well as other locally grown and raised foods. Maybe you have no extra time or co-ops aren’t really for you. Farmers collectives provide similar opportunities with grass-fed beef and other pasture-raised foods. Your city probably has a farmers market during the warmer months. Palm Springs (where I live) and other warmer climates have farmers markets nearly year round, although some cities now conveniently have indoor farmers markets during colder seasons.

7. Load your plate with high-fiber foods. My number one nutrient for eating less: fiber, which delays gastric emptying, balances blood sugar, curbs cravings and makes you full faster. What’s not to love? Aim for two or three inexpensive, high-fiber foods at every meal. Excellent choices include avocado, legumes, nuts, seeds and leafy greens. My secret weapon to bypass seconds and reduce your dessert hankering: Stir a scoop of freshly ground flaxseed or a fiber-blend supplement powder into a tall glass of water 30 to 60 minutes before meals.

8. Prepare ahead of time. You know the saying: Fail to plan, plan to fail. Whether your goal is fast fat loss or getting a healthy meal on the table for your family, thinking ahead can save you time, money, and effort. If you know you’ll be stuck late at work tomorrow, prep dinner ingredients and you’ll be far less tempted to spike your credit card bill ordering in or grabbing take-out. Many clients make Sunday “prep day” for the week ahead.

9. Learn the dirty dozen. In a perfect world, every food would be organic. Realistically, sometimes it becomes hard to justify spending three times for organic produce. That’s why you want to know the Dirty Dozen: you always want to buy these 12 most-contaminated foods organic. The “Clean 15” are your least contaminated foods, with few or no contaminants. If you’re going to buy non-organic, these are your best bets.

10. Brew your own. Coffee and tea, that is! (Although come to think of it, you could also save big money making your own pinot noir or gluten-free beer.) Like my client who unknowingly spent $35 a week on sugary lattes and stale pastries, your caffeine habit can take its toll on your pocketbook and even your waistline. Become your own barista and brew a cup of organic coffee or green tea for far less than what you’d spend at a coffee shop.

11. Use discounted gift cards. Purchasing discounted gift cards to retailers such as Whole Foods, Walmart, and Target can save you money on all your healthy food needs. With discounts up to 35% off, your grocery bill is sure to decrease. Check out 100% guaranteed sites such as giftcardrescue.com

11 Ways to Monetize Your Blog

If you want to earn a little money on the side or turn your blog into a full time business, here are some tips from Blog Marketing Academy  on the best ways to monetize your blog.

1. Membership Programs

The “freemium” model is a huge and growing trend in online income right now. You provide a lot of quality content for free to your audience, and you provide a premium-level program to those willing to pay for it. You charge a monthly membership and that provides continuity and a steady income stream.

Learn how to set up a market a membership site using this free guide I set up.

2. Information Products (Of Your Own)

The selling of knowledge is HUGE. If you build up your position in your market, you can then sell quality information to that market. This can take the form of e-books, audio, videos, or all of the above. You can package them up or just sell them digitally. If you author the product yourself (recommended), then you keep 100% of the profit.

3. Services/Consulting/Coaching

Another great way to make money with a blog is an indirect one. Use the blog to build reputation. Build a brand and build an audience. Then, you make your money by directing that attention into offline services, consulting and/or coaching. This can be quite lucrative. The drawback is that you are, again, trading time for money. So, it is only scalable up to a point.

As an example, you can hire me for a website review.

4. Speaking Gigs

If you become well known as an expert in your niche, you can turn that into speaking gigs which you get paid for. Chris Brogan does this with his blog. Whether he makes money directly with his blog or not (I honestly don’t know), I know he gets paid to speak at various events.

5. Product Sales

If you have a physical product line to offer, you can use the blog as a face for your online store. Sell whatever you want. For example, if you are an artist, you can use an online store to sell art pieces and a blog to build up audience and a following.

6. Affiliate Programs

Affiliate marketing is a great way to build up your income. You offer the products of others to your audience and get paid when they buy it. In fact, any time you recommend a relevant product or service to your audience, check to see if they have an affiliate program. If so, sign up and use your affiliate link. After all, if you’d recommend it to your readers anyway, you might as well make a little cut if they happen to buy.

GiftCardRescue.com’s affiliate program pays you $5 for every card that that is bought though your referred readers and 2% of all cards that are sold by your readers.

7. Direct Ad Sales

Banner ads and in-text ads are another popular way to make money. In fact, it is usually the first method you think of. However, if you’re going to go this route, selling the ads directly will result in more cash in your pocket. As I mentioned in my video evaluation of Jim On Light, make a media kit for your blog. As for pricing, I would recommend you shoot for twice your eCPM from Google Adsense. Why twice? Because that’s what Google is charging (they take half).

8. Banner Advertising

OK, if you don’t want to sell your own ads, you can obviously still run network advertising from a variety of different sources. Personally, I am using AdsenseKontera, IDG and a little bit of Tribal Fusion.

You can also direct sell ads and use network ads as filler for unused inventory. It is done all the time.

9. Paid Posts

Yes, you can get paid to review products and sites on your blog. Sites like PayPerPost andReviewMe are popular options. I’ve seen some blogs sell this option directly. When doing this, it is important to disclose the fact that it is a paid review. It is also important that you maintain your integrity and never give a positive review unless you’re really feeling it.

10. Job Boards

Some sites (like ProBlogger) have job boards. It does work for some sites, however it probably won’t work for a majority of blogs out there.

11. Build It & Sell It

OK, I’ve thrown in an eleventh one as a bonus. :)

You can build up a blog, build an audience, then turn around and sell the thing. In fact, some people actually buy blogs which are dead or are vastly underutliized by their owners. They’ll then put their marketing skills to work, build the SEO backlinks, build the readership. Then, they turn around and sell it at a profit. It can work. I’ve never done it myself personally, but I’ve read of others who have.