The Ultimate Guide to Making Side Income (2020)

The Ultimate Guide to Making Side Income (2020)

It covers everything from making quick side income to creating a long-term side hustle that could become your full-time job. 

Making extra side income could change your life. I’ve explored dozens of ways to earn a second income on top of my day job, and it’s opened up so many doors. As a financial coach, I get the question all the time, “how can I make extra side income?

If you want to save more towards financial independence, pay off your debt, or start a new side hustle because you hate your job, you’ll apply side income ideas from this post and start making more money. 

Don’t Waste Your Time

Word of caution—don’t waste your time.

There are thousands of different ways to make side income streams.

I’ll tell you from my experience what works and what doesn’t work, so you don’t waste your time. Everything on this list, I’ve tried.

Nothing bothers me more than when an article benefits the person who wrote it more than the people reading it.

For example, a post telling me I can make $500+ per month completing online surveys isn’t real. Or when the article has the highest affiliate payout links but doesn’t add value to the reader. 

You won’t get that here.

I don’t promote anything I haven’t tried. Many of the side income sources below are affiliate links that help support my business, but I’m sharing these ideas because I want to help you in times where you want to make money, not because it’s the highest payout for me.

I suggest bookmarking this page and coming back. Everything is free to join.

If you have a friend or family member who could benefit from this list, please share it with them!

Here’s the link: https://simplifinances.com/the-ultimate-guide-to-making-side-income

Focus On Skills

The number one thing you can do to increase your second income is to invest in skills and get a good education.

Become an expert in one particular field and build up your career. If you’re struggling to make a second income, you don’t have a money problem; you have a skill problem. 

You may feel like many of these ideas are a waste of time. But experiment and move on to another idea. 

Table of Contents

  • Quick Money
  • Use Your Phone to Make Side Income
  • Use Your Car to Make Side Income
  • Work From Home
  • Anytime Work
  • Part-Time Work
  • Ways to Make Extra Income at Your Current Job

Quick Money

Many of these quick side income ideas have worked great for me, which you can complete from your phone. There’s more to learn and more earning potential with your phone, especially as smartphones get smarter. 

I share with you how much I’ve made on many of these not to brag but to show you it’s possible to make money.

A Note About Privacy

Keep in mind what youre giving up when you sign up to get paid to do stuff online. Often if an app is free, it means you’re the product. I’m not ignorant of the fact that I’ve given up personal information to make side income online. Many people aren’t comfortable doing that.

The way I look at it is when it becomes a problem and starts impacting my personal and private life; then I will take action. I want to take advantage of the opportunities out there. Plus, Google and Facebook already know more about you than you know about yourself. 

1. COMPLETE ONLINE SURVEYS

Many companies are willing to pay you to answer questions for them. Surveys aren’t going to produce any significant amount of money, but it’s quick and easy. 

Survey Junkie side hustle | Simplifinances

Survey Junkie – Earn points by completing surveys, which pay anywhere from $2 to $75 per completed survey. The longer the survey, the higher the pay. Even if you don’t qualify for a study, you’ll still get rewarded for trying.

Total earned: $13.91

Sign up for Survey Junkie today!

Swagbucks side hustle | Simplifinances

Swagbucks – Rack up Swagbucks by shopping at your favorite retailers, completing online surveys, surfing the web, watching videos, playing games, signing up for offers, and more. 

Total earned: $15

Sign up for Swagbucks and get a $10 bonus!

InboxDollars side hustle | Simplifinances

InboxDollars – Inbox dollars is a website/app you can join to earn extra money (although the money is more like pennies) because it takes forever to build up enough money to make a withdrawal. You can also get rewarded for watching videos online. You need a minimum of $30 to withdraw funds.

Total earned: $40.29

Use this InboxDollars link and get started with $5.00!

Perksy side hustle | Simplifinances

Persky – Perksy is a new mobile app launched in 2018 aimed toward millennials. It’s super easy to complete “stacks” for points, and they do a great job with the UI. It’s only available on iOS.

Total earned: $35.98

Sign up for Perksy and get started making money today!

Google Rewards side hustle | Simplifinances

Google Opinion Rewards – A mobile survey tool that rewards you with cash in your Google account (Android Users) every time you complete a brief survey. Payments are sent via PayPal if you use iOS.

Total earned: $13.31

Sign up for Google Rewards today!

2. GET PAID TO DRIVE AROUND AND SHOP

Shopkick side hustle | Simplifinances

Shopkick – If you aren’t using Shopkick, you should be! Shopkick allows you to earn points for various activities you turn into gift cards or cash. There are four main ways to earn points: walking into the store, scanning items, purchasing items, and uploading your receipt and a shopping portal.

Whenever we go to Walmart, for example, I might earn ten kicks for walking in. Then I earn hundreds of kicks scanning items we’re already walking past.

You don’t even need to go into the store, driving by slow will give you kicks!

Total earned: $69.00

Sign up for Shopkick and claim 250 kicks.

Use Zap Surveys to make extra side income | Simplifinances

Zap Surveys – Get rewarded for entering stores like CVS and Walmart. These rewards are available at most major retailers.

When a partner retailer or restaurant is running a promotion, and you’re nearby, Zap Surveys will send you a notification. If you open the app, you’ll get rewarded with up to $0.25. You can also earn money from surveys and checking in daily. 

Total earned: $70.21

Sign up for Zap Surveys and get $1.00!

Use CheckPoints to make extra side income | Simplifinances

Checkpoints – This is similar to Zap Surveys. When you arrive at a store, it will send you a push notification and is all you have to do is open it up, and it will reward you. You could be miles away from a store, and it will still give you 20 points. Cash-out via gift card.

Total earned: $25

Sign up for Checkpoints! Use code scotthendy121 

Use Panel App to make extra side income | Simplifinances

Panel App – Earn points towards sweepstakes and gift cards for leaving the app running in the background. You can ramp up your rewards even more if you answer questions based on where you went. 

Total earned: $37.73

Sign up for Panel App and make extra dough!

Monkey Rewards | Simplifinances

Monkey Rewards – Similar to other paid survey apps that allow you to make money for taking surveys but with a twist, SurveyMonkey Rewards users earn credits that can be redeemed for either Amazon Gift Cards or donated to a charity – and they match donations!

Total earned: $39.45

Download the SurveyMonkey Rewards app and start earning rewards today!

Surveys On the Go | Simplifinances

Surveys On The Go – This is one of the easiest ways to earn quick money. Each day, I’ll have the opportunity to participate in surveys and most of the time I don’t qualify for them or they will take too long. But even if you don’t qualify they still give you $0.10 which is pretty good.

Total earned: $56.65

Get started with Surveys On The Go!

3. GET PAID TO TAKE PICTURES OF YOUR RECEIPTS

Use Ibotta to make extra side income | Simplifinances

Ibotta – An easy-to-use cashback app with 100+ retailers, both in-store and online. Anywhere you go shopping, you’ll find cashback opportunities.

When you get home from your shopping trip, click the + icon and take a picture of your receipt, and you’ll quickly earn cashback. Get paid via Venmo, PayPal, or gift cards.

Total earned: $397.43

100% free to download and you’ll get a $10 bonus after uploading your first receipt!

Use Receipt Hog to make extra side income | Simplifinances

Receipt Hog – Upload your receipts from shopping to earn “coins,” which you can turn into cash rewards. It’s a simple process requiring a small amount of your time.

Unlike earning money completing surveys, using Receipt Hog is quick – a snap of a receipt, and that’s it! It takes seconds of your time. Get paid via PayPal, Visa, and Amazon gift cards. 

You have to apply to Receipt Hog and they have a waiting list. 

Total earned: $45

Sign up for Receipt Hog today!

Use Receipt Pal to make extra side income | Simplifinances

Receipt Pal – Similar to Receipt Hod, take a picture of your receipts and get rewarded. You can cash out with gift cards or through a Visa gift card. The first time I redeemed $25, it was a gift card to Restaurants.com. I’m $5.00 away from cashing out with another $25 Visa prepaid card. 

Total earned: $55

Sign up for Receipt Pal and get rewarded for taking pictures of receipts!

Use Fetch Rewards to make extra side income | Simplifinances

Fetch Rewards – Pays you for uploading pictures of your grocery receipts. But it’s different from other rebate apps (like Ibotta) in a few ways.

  • No action is required until you scan your receipt
  • There are no surveys to take or videos to watch
  • Even better? You don’t have to indicate you’re going to make the purchase, and you don’t have to scan the barcodes of the items you purchased
  • Lastly, Fetch doesn’t pay its users with cash — instead, you redeem your earned points for gift cards

Total earned: $60

Start with Fetch Rewards and claim 2000 points ($2.00)!

Use CoinOut to make extra side income | Simplifinances

CoinOut – A smartphone app available for Android and Apple users that gives you the ability to earn pocket change from a variety of receipts from everyday purchases you make.

If you guys happen to watch Shark Tank, then you may recognize Jeffrey from the appearance he made on the show back on February 18, 2018, where he first introduced this revolutionary app to the entire world.

Total earned: $21.78

Join CoinOut Now!

Use Checkout 51 to make extra side income | Simplifinances

Checkout 51 – Start earning cash while you grocery shop. Browse the list of grocery items posted and select which items you’re interested in buying. The list updates Thursday at midnight, and the grocery items on the list qualify for cashback until the following Wednesday at 11:59 p.m. 

It’s harder to earn cashback than Ibotta but worth a shot. 

Total earned: $29.80

Start earning cashback at the store!

Use Trunow to make extra side income | Simplifinances

Trunow – A money-saving app that not only finds you the lowest per-gallon gas prices near you, but it also gives you cashback on your gas purchases from partnered gas stations. Is all you have to do is upload a picture of your receipt after purchasing gas, and that’s it!  

Total earned: $9.31

Sign up for Trunow and get $0.50!

Use Coupons.com to make extra side income | Simplifinances

Coupons.com – Get printable coupons, link loyalty cards, and earn cashback on everyday purchases.

This one can be difficult to earn cashback because the amount of offers is limited. They may have deals where they give away free food, and they’ll reimburse the cost of the purchase. Last month, we got free eggs!

Total earned: $7.31

Get the Coupons.com app!

Use SavingStar to make extra side income | Simplifinances

SavingStar – A free smartphone app (also available online) that helps you save money without clipping or printing coupons by giving you cashback on purchases you make.

Like other cashback rebate apps, you can submit pictures of your receipts or link your store loyalty card, and money is to your account.

Total earned: $1.00

Become a SavingStar (haha)!

4. GET CASH BACK AUTOMATICALLY

Use Ebates to make extra side income | Simplifinances

Rakuten – This is my favorite cashback app (previously known as Ebates). It has gained popularity over the past few years. There are two ways I earn cashback:

  • Enabling the Google Chrome extension, and each time I go to check out on any partner’s website, it asks if I’d like to activate cashback. Then I don’t have to remember to go to the website; it’s always there.
  • The second way is using the Ebates app. Open the app and click through to your favorite stores, and when you purchase an item, cashback is added automatically. 

Total earned: $226.39

Sign up with my direct link and get a $10 bonus!

Pei App automatic cash back | Simplifinances

Pei – Automatic cashback in Bitcoin or cash. This app is similar to others where you connect your debit/credit cards. When you purchase items at popular places like McDonald’s, CVS, Taco Bell, Walgreens, and Chick-Fil-A, you get automatically rewarded. This one is becoming my favorite to have on my phone.

Out of all the other apps, this one is probably the easiest because of the popular merchants they work with.

Total earned: $30.95

Sign up for Pei and get cashback automatically!

Use Drop to make extra side income | Simplifinances

Drop – An intuitive and easy-to-use app that lets you earn gift cards for the money you’re already spending. Link up a card, and you’ll automatically get cashback when you spend money at certain brands such as Walmart, McDonald’s, etc.

The best part – when you spend money five times at a retail partner, you get the chance to play Snake for additional supercharge bonus points!

Total earned: $54.34

Get started with Drop and earn gift cards automatically!

Dosh App | Simplifinances

Dosh – A smartphone app that gives you cash back every time you make a purchase at participating outlets using your credit card.

If you link your credit card with the Dosh App for the first time, they’ll instantly add $5 cash to your Dosh Wallet. There’s no “unlocking” this bonus; you get it as soon as you link your card. And you can add additional cards for more cash.

For a deeper look at the Dosh app, read: A Review of the Dosh App. Legit or a Scam?

Total earned: $54.28

Earn $5 by linking a card!

RetailMeNot | Simplifinances

RetailMeNot – Coupons, promo codes, gift cards, and a whole bunch of other incentives. Last year, they released the ability to link cashback offers. And I don’t spend much money, but so far I’ve earned cash back from a purchase I made at CVS. 

Total cash back: $4.00

Sign up!

Use Paribus to make extra side income | Simplifinances

Paribus – An easy way to put money back in your pocket. It’s an online service that tracks your online purchases for lower prices and requests a refund if it finds a lower price.

The more you buy stuff online, the more you’ll get back. Paribus even tracks orders from Amazon to see if they were delivered late. If it was, then you’re entitled to compensation from Amazon. Here’s the script they give you:

“Hello, me order #112-5044649-6629004 arrived later than promised. Could you please fix the issue through your shipping promise? Thank you very much.”

I tried it once and the next day Amazon had issued me a $5 gift card.

Total earned: $6.53

Sign up for Paribus and get refunded when prices drop!

 Earny | Simplifinances

Earny – This is similar to Paribus; you’re giving Earny permission to track your purchases. You’ll get double the refund back if both apps pick up a purchase of a product that has dropped in price. Maybe you’ll be the lucky one! Get started connecting your credit card!

I hardly spend online which is probably the reason I haven’t earned cash back.

Total refund: $0.00

Give Earny a try!

Use Honey to make extra side income | Simplifinances

Honey – A Google Chrome Extension that will flash anytime you’re about to check out on most websites, and it will automatically find the best coupons and promo codes for your purchase with a single click. It gets added to your Honey account, and you can cash out when you reach $10. 

Total earned: $10.40

Get started honey!

Up to this point, each app I’ve listed by itself might be a waste of time. But, when you stack one on top of another, it starts to become more worth it. Making $5 on one app is nothing to be too excited about, but I’ve earned over $1,000 from the apps listed above.

Most of these apps have been introduced in the past couple of years. I believe we’re still early in making money from our smartphones and we’ll continue to see more and more opportunities as phones get smarter. 

5. INVEST YOUR SPARE CHANGE

Use Acorns to make extra side income | Simplifinances

Acorns – This is a smartphone app that “rounds up” your spending to the nearest dollar and invests it. For example, buy a drink for $3.50, and $0.50 is added to your investment account.

You link a credit card and checking account, and Acorns does the rest. It makes investing painless because you’re spending only pennies at a time. You can also invest any amount of money you choose to monthly or at one time in low-cost Vanguard index funds. 

Sign up for Acorns and get $5 to start investing!

6. SAVE MONEY ON YOUR BILLS

Use Trim to make extra side income | Simplifinances

Trim – Saving money on your bills will free up cash. “Trim isn’t an app, but rather an AI assistant that analyzes your financial transactions and finds ways to save you money. When Trim started in 2015, its core capability was finding and canceling unwanted subscriptions, and this is still what it’s best at.” – PC World

You can read a post I wrote about Trim and see how I saved $25 on my internet bill.

Start saving money today with Trim!

7. EARN MORE INTEREST ON YOUR SAVINGS

Varo Money | Simplifinances

Varo – A new online bank I discovered because of its high-yield savings account. We’re earning 1.80% interest on our savings—100x higher APY than other banks.

They operate only through an app and are changing how we do mobile banking. They’re the first mobile only bank to apply for a national bank charter and be approved.

Sign up for Varo and earn more interest on your savings!

8. SELL UNWANTED GIFT CARDS

Use Raise to make a second income | Simplifinances

Raise – The best way to get rid of your unwanted gift cards and make extra money, with little effort. Raise is an online marketplace where you can sell your unwanted gift cards for cash at whatever price you choose and buy discounted gift cards to the places where you shop.

Get started with $5!

9. LEND MONEY TO YOUR PEERS

Use Lending Club to make a second income | Simplifinances

Lending Club – Peer-to-peer lending platforms are a great alternative to the stock market and still yield a decent return. You can participate in two ways:

  • Lend other people money and get a decent return
  • And act as the bank, which is pretty neat

And if you need a loan you can borrow one. It’s worked out for many people for over 10 years. 

Lending Club is the world’s largest online credit marketplace connecting borrowers and investors. Worth looking into!

Learn more about Lending Club!

10. SAVE MONEY AUTOMATICALLY

Use Digitto make a second income | Simplifinances

Digit – Automatically save your money so you don’t have to think about it. Designed to help you save small bits of money over time.

As with the Acorns app, you won’t get rich off the money you save with this service, but it does initiate that first step toward creating a savings habit and building wealth.

Give it a try!

11. GET PAID TO STAY FIT

Use Achievement to make a second income | Simplifinances

Achievement – This app connects to more than 20 other health and fitness apps (Fitbit, MyFitnessPal, Samsung Health, or Apple’s Health app). It tracks your healthy activities, including sleep, step, and nutrition data, and it rewards you with points.

You can convert your points to cash or donate them to a health-related charity you care about. You can also earn points and money for participating in health studies. Why not get paid to perform healthy activities?

Total earned: $38

Set it, leave it and get paid!

USE YOUR PHONE TO MAKE MONEY

Use Your Phone To Make Money | Simplifinances

12. MAKE $3.00 – $20.00 AT THE STORE

Use Field Agent to make a second income | Simplifinances

Field Agent – Once you download the app, you can set it to check for jobs in your local area. These jobs vary, but for the most part, they involve doing inside the store activities. For example, I was at Walgreens, and I took three pictures of beverages, answered a couple of questions, and made $3.

When I’m at Costco shopping with my wife, I’ll wander off by myself and complete a job or two. They may ask you to buy items and they’ll reimburse you 100% of the cost. What’s better than free food?

Total earned: $46.90

Become a Field Agent today!

Use Mobee to make a second income | Simplifinances

Mobee – Pays you to complete missions near you. These missions consist of going to local stores and answering questions about the store. Every time you complete a task, you earn points that can be exchanged for gift cards.

Total earned: $28.75

Sign up for Mobee! Use my referral code: K1KC to earn 300 points

EasyShift | Simplifinances

Easy Shift – The Easy Shift App pays you for completing small, simple tasks. It gives you shifts you must complete within a specific time limit. The duties include going to local stores and taking pictures of whatever product requested.

These tasks are longer and more difficult than Field Agent and Mobee. 

Total earned: $21.50

Try out Easy Shift for yourself!

Gigwalk | Simplifinances

Gigwalk – If you sign up to be a Gigwalker and download the free app, you’ll get the opportunity to do little odd jobs, or “gigs.” These jobs might consist of taking pictures of different businesses, downloading and trying out different apps, and answering consumer research questions.

Total earned: $9

Sign up for Gigwalk today!

13. GET PAID TO TAKE PICTURES

Spare5 | Simplifinances

Spare5 – The Spare5 app pays you to complete small and manageable tasks from your smartphone. Use the time waiting in line, riding the train, or waiting for a friend to earn a bit of spare cash.

What I did was go to the park with my wife one day and take pictures of random objects. They’ve got a list of hundreds of ideas you could take a picture of. 

Total earned: $0.68

Sign up for Spare5 today!

14. GET STARTED INVESTING IN REAL ESTATE

Fundrise| Simplifinances

Fundrise – You can buy individual shares of real estate property through a website like Fundrise. According to their site, investors can earn an average of 12% to 14% annually on their investment.

Become a lazy landlord!

15. GET STARTED INVESTING

Robinhood | Simplifinances

Robinhood – A free-investing app ideal for investors who want to trade stocks, options, exchange-traded funds, and cryptocurrency without paying commissions or fees. I signed up for Robinhood in 2016 and have been using it ever since.

Warning: it can be addicting! I try not to check it as much as I used to! 

Get started investing with Robinhood and get a free stock!

Vanguard | Simplifinances

Vanguard – When it comes to investing for retirement with accounts such as a Roth IRA or a 401k, I recommend Vanguard because of their excellent customer service and low fees.

Jack Bogle, the founder of Vanguard, changed investing for the average investor by creating the index fund. They don’t have the most user-friendly online interface, but it’s ok because you only need to set your money and forget it.

Set up a retirement account.

Stockpile | Simplifinances

Stockpile – Stockpile is an app that offers gift cards which can be used for the purchase of both stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). The gift cards can be purchased and redeemed on the Stockpile platform. It avoids the hassle of having to purchase a single stock.

Instead of giving gifts to my little sisters, the past couple of years I’ve given them fractional shares of Lululemon and Disney. 

Buy fractional shares of companies.

MAKE MONEY WITH YOUR CAR

Make Money With Your Car | Simplifinances

16. ADVERTISE ON YOUR CAR

Use Wrapify to make extra side income | Simplifinances

Wrapify – I haven’t done this, but I’ve heard of people making anywhere from $200 – $400 a month to wrap their entire car with advertisements. The more you drive, the more earning potential you have. So if you’re a rideshare driver, you could make an additional side income with this. Another car advertisement company is ReferralCar. They’ll pay you to put an advertisement on your back window. 

Start advertising on your car.

17. DRIVE OTHERS AROUND TOWN

Use Uber to make extra side income | Simplifinances

Uber – I’m sure you’ve heard of Uber before, and I don’t need to go into detail on what it is. Ridesharing has been the most popular side hustle over the past few years.

I haven’t driven for Uber and Lyft because the town I’m in is a college town and there are more drivers than people needing a ride and I’ve never felt like I’ve had time to do it. However, there are many people making a decent second income. 

Give Uber a try and make $125 guaranteed in first 30 trips.

Use Lyft to make extra side income | Simplifinances

Lyft – Lyft is another great way to make extra money by using your car. New drivers who sign up with Lyft earn a $75 bonus after their first 50 rides. If you have weekend and evening availability, you could reach the bonus in a few short weeks. Sign up with Lyft to claim your $75 bonus!

Start driving for Lyft.

Use Turo to make extra side income | Simplifinances

Turo – Turo is like the Airbnb of cars. When you’re not using your vehicle, you can rent it out to other people who need one for a short time. 

It’s estimated the average owner makes an additional $540 a month letting others use their car but it depends on how often you make it available.

Rent your car out with Turo.

Use Gas Buddy to make extra side income | Simplifinances

GasBuddy – Enter to win cash when you report gas prices with GasBuddy. You can also use it to find the cheapest gas prices in town. When you pull up to a gas station to fill up or even when you’re driving past a gas station, report the gas prices and you can enter to win $100 of free gas.

I’ve never won the gift card but I also don’t spend much time reporting gas prices. 

Download GasBuddy.

WORK FROM HOME

Work From Home | Simplifinances

18. WALK DOGS

Use Rover to make extra side income | Simplifinances

Rover – If you’ve considered becoming a dog sitter, you may have wondered where to find a steady supply of dog-sitting jobs. Maybe you’ve even thought of starting your own dog-sitting business – putting up flyers, or posting ads on Craigslist or your neighborhood bulletin. Each of those is good ways to get started, but this is another option for anyone considering a part-time or full-time job pet sitting.

Become a dog sitter.

19. TEACH CLASSES ONLINE

Use VIPkid to make extra side income | Simplifinances

VIPKid – VIPKid is an online teaching service. Teachers from North America teach students in China who are mostly between ages 5 and 12. The pay varies from $15-20 per hour.

Give VIPKid a try.

Use Udemy to make extra side income | Simplifinances

Udemy – Udemy is a global marketplace for education. With its wide-ranging topics, Udemy has courses for both professional and personal development.

Anyone with a background in teaching or particular expertise can design and offer a course on Udemy. However, courses must have at least one to three hours of content.

As an instructor, you must create a curriculum, set course goals, and define your target students.

Start teaching a course.

20. TEST WEBSITES 

Use UserTesting to make extra side income | Simplifinances

User Testing – This is a simple to use program. Business owners have their websites reviewed by you as an end-user. Record what you’re seeing, and they pay you for your time.

Tests take no longer than 20 min. Each test will pay $10.00.

Get started testing websites.

21. BECOME A VIRTUAL ASSISTANT

Use Fiverr to make extra side income | Simplifinances

Fiverr – Fiverr is an online marketplace offering tasks and services for as little as $5 per gig.

If making money on Fiverr is your goal, you’ll need to set up your free account and then complete your seller profile.

Then you can go in and create your gig. If you aren’t sure what to sell, spend time browsing the Fiverr catalog to see what’s out there and what service you can offer.

See what you can offer on Fiverr.

22. SELL YOUR UNWANTED STUFF

If you want a way to make a quick $500 this weekend, consider going through all over your unwanted stuff and having a garage sale. My wife and I made $600 before we moved to Texas. 

You can also sell your unwanted stuff on places like LetGo and Decluttr.

23. FLIP STUFF ON FACEBOOK MARKETPLACE

Use Facebook to make extra side income | Simplifinances

Suppose I had to start over from scratch and had nothing to my name: no income, no furniture, nothing. The first place I’d look would be Facebook Marketplace. I’d go to the free section and turn around and sell the same item. I’d keep doing this until I’ve made enough money to move on to the next side hustle. 

Is all you have to do is find free stuff, fix it, and sell it.

ANYTIME WORK

Anytime Work | Simplifinances

24. RENT OUT YOUR SPARE BEDROOM 

Use Airbnb to make extra side income | Simplifinances

Airbnb – Airbnb is an online community marketplace that connects people looking to rent their homes with people who are looking for accommodations. Why not list your extra bedroom and start making passive side income?

Make money with AirBnB.

25. DELIVER GROCERIES FOR OTHER PEOPLE

Use Instacart to make extra side income | Simplifinances

Instacart – Shoppers make money by shopping for groceries at local stores the company is partnered with and delivering those items to customer’s homes. The hours are flexible, and the orders come through Instacart’s shopper app. I delivered groceries a few times and made anywhere from $25 – $20 an hour.

You could also save time going to the grocery store and have groceries delivered to you while you work on another side gig at home. 

Start delivering groceries with Instacart.

Use Shipt to make extra side income | Simplifinances

Shipt – Shipt is a grocery delivery service. Target acquired it in 2017 for $550 Billion. If you’re interested in earning extra money in the sharing economy, Shipt could be an excellent way for you to make good money (about $25 per hour) on your schedule. I also delivered for Shipt a few times.

Start delivery groceries at Target.

26. BECOME A BABYSITTER

Use Care.com to make extra side income | Simplifinances

Care.com – Care.com is a one-stop site to find caregiving services for your family and home. You could walk dogs every day, be a housekeeper to tidy up homes once a week or watch kids regularly — all in one place.

Take care of other people’s family/home.

27. SELL YOUR OLD TEXTBOOKS

Selling old textbooks to make extra side income | Simplifinances

Amazon – I’m not sure if you’ve heard of Amazon before? It got its start selling books on the internet and has grown a bit since then.

In college, I’d always buy my textbooks used off of Amazon and then turn around and sell them. A few times for a profit. 

Sell your old textbooks.

28. BECOME A MYSTERY SHOPPER

Use Market Force to make extra side income | Simplifinances

Market Force – Marketforce is a mystery shopping company that most users are satisfied with.

Not a great way to make side income but you can be reimbursed for your meals.

The amount varies depending on what you’re doing. In most cases, you’ll visit a place of business and purchase food costing at least a certain amount of money as well as fill out a survey on how clean the restaurant was, how helpful the workers were, etc.

You’ll be reimbursed for what you bought and paid extra for taking the time to do the mystery shop. It’s not going to amount to a fortune and won’t cover all your bills, but it could be a source of extra money for you.

I’ve completed a few mystery shops at Five Guys. I was paid $6.00 and reimbursed for $12.75.

Start mystery shopping.

29. RATE ADS ON FACEBOOK AND GOOGLE

Use Appen to make extra side income | Simplifinances

Appen – Appen is a data collection company that uses information (gathered from human interaction) to make machine learning programs act more “human-like.”

They do this through independent contractors (you) and employees who perform tasks online like speaking phrases into a microphone or having you evaluate social media and search engines.

I’ve been doing this for months and have consistently made $300 per month for a few minutes of work every day. It’s become my favorite way to make side income!

Become an ad rating expert.

PART-TIME WORK

Part-Time Work | Simplifinances

30. SELL CRAFTS ONLINE

Use Etsy to make extra side income | Simplifinances

Etsy – Etsy is an excellent tool for marketing and selling your creative works. My wife has always been the creative type. When she was in high school, she started selling handmade earrings and bags on Etsy.

A few years ago, she decided to start her online e-commerce business Cozy Cottontail and sell only on Etsy. She made over 500 sales in the first six months and then decided to create her online store with Shopify. So she sells on both! 

Sell on Etsy.

31. START AN ONLINE E-COMMERCE BUSINESS

Use Shopify to make extra side income | Simplifinances

Shopify – Shopify makes it easy for people who know nothing about programming, coding, and web development to startup and run their online store. They do this so entrepreneurs can focus on building the aspects of their business they excel at without having to worry too much about the technical stuff.

Running a business with Shopify has made everything so much easier. It can be expensive and hard to get your business off the ground, but I recommend it if you want to sell stuff online. 

Sell on Shopify.

32. BECOME A NOTARY PUBLIC/ LOAN SIGNING AGENT

Use The Loan Signing System to make extra side income | Simplifinances

The Loan Signing System – I was listening to the Side Hustle Show podcast, and the episode was titled “How to Become a Loan Signing Agent and Earn $100 An Hour Part-Time.” At first, it didn’t sound easy. What did a loan signing agent even do? Before we moved to Texas, I wanted to find a new viable side hustle. I never spend money on courses, but this one felt like I could do. So I purchased the course and, within a month, did my first loan signing. I’ve since done 42, and it has been a fantastic side gig! 

I’m a “Loan Signing Agent.” No, not a real estate agent, and I don’t give out bank loans. What I do is assist borrowers in filling out and signing their documents for loan officers. I then sign and notarize. The course is called the “Loan Signing System” by Mark Wills. Mark is an excellent teacher, and my upfront cost was $350, which I made back in the first month. I’ve learned a ton about the real estate industry, and I could see myself doing this for many years!

Take the course.

33. BECOME A HANDYMAN

Use TaskRabbit to make extra side income | Simplifinances

TaskRabbit – The site works as a middleman to let clients post the work they need help with that requires a handyman, cleaner, mover, etc. As a “Tasker,” you can use the site to find jobs, contact potential clients, and collect payment for your work (minus a 20% service fee).

Using the site, as opposed to working through an avenue like Craigslist, helps make sure you get paid for your work and reassures clients you are who you say you are and don’t have a criminal record.

Earn side income from your skills

34. BECOME A FREELANCER

Use Upwork to make extra side income | Simplifinances

Upwork – Upwork is an international freelance marketplace where independent business people hire and meet with freelancers for various web-based tasks.

You can work at Upwork if you possess the skills the website requires and can perform the service on your computer remotely. All you have to do is create an account, specify what service you provide, start looking for jobs, get hired, and get paid.

Perform virtual tasks.

35. PREPARE TAXES

Individuals and businesses are willing to spend a few hundred dollars a year to have their taxes prepared. There are resources out there to learn tax preparation and all its complexities.

I became a VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistant) a few years ago and have helped many people prepare and submit their taxes to the IRS. It was part of my job, so I never charged my clients, but I could see myself offering this as a service. 

Become certified by the IRS.

36. FLIP FURNITURE

My favorite activity to do is find used old furniture for free and turn around and flip it. There aren’t many places where you can find a free product and turn around and sell it for a significant profit! 

Read about my latest project!

37. BECOME A SPORTS REFEREE

Local rec leagues, whether it’s softball, flag football, soccer, etc. need people to officiate games. Working a game or two each weekend is a great way to make an extra side income.

I did this during my senior year of high school, and it was great because it was on Saturdays and at night on weekdays. I did this for two years as my main side hustle and would make $10-$12 a game. 

Check out a post J. Money from Budgets Are Sexy put together about becoming a referee.

38. START A WOODWORKING BUSINESS

Woodworking is a great skill to have. The better you are, the more you can get paid. I’ve been doing wood projects since high school, and to me, it’s therapeutic.

When I become financially independent, I can see myself spending a considerable amount of time on wood projects. There’s nothing quite like putting the final touches on furniture you built and putting it inside your home. And if I made money doing it, I wouldn’t complain.

This website is my favorite place to find wood projects.

39. START A CAR DETAILING BUSINESS

Car detailing was my number one side hustle for years. I started detailing cars in high school while working at a car wash. I started my auto detailing business in 2014, which I ran for four years, all through college. It provided a high second income and the ability to set my schedule and rates.

It’s not the fanciest work, but believe me, so many people are willing to pay for a good car detail every year. You need a few thousand dollars to get all of the right equipment to have a successful business up and running in a short amount of time. I’d recommend anyone do this. 

MAKE SIDE INCOME ONLINE

Make Money Online | Simplifinances

40. START A BLOG

Bluehost | Simplifinances

Bluehost – This can be a pure side hustle, or it can turn big – it’s up to you. I’m a huge fan of blogging because I love writing and connecting with people. Everyone has a passion and a story to tell. Give blogging a try, and you never know what it could become. 

Sign up for an email course created by Grant at Millennial Money that got me to start a blog. 

Start a blog with Bluehost.

41. START A PODCAST

Anchor side income ideas | Simplifinances

Anchor – What if your writing isn’t all that great, but you’re a great conversationalist? If you have a topic you’re passionate about, why not start a podcast? As your audience grows, you can land sweet sponsorship deals.

Start a podcast with Anchor.

42. START A YOUTUBE CHANNEL

Use YouTube to make extra side income | Simplifinances

Youtube – Your topic area can be anything. From pranksters filming their antics to chemistry professors sharing their how-to videos, anyone can make a side income from YouTube.

Share your skills with the world.

43. BECOME A FREELANCE WRITER

Content is what drives web traffic. Websites are always pumping out fresh, new content for their readers, and they’re always looking for writers! If you aren’t quite ready to launch your blog yet, this might be an excellent option to see if writing is for you.

I started freelancing a few years ago, and it can be a great side income source, and the flexibility to work from wherever makes it all worth it. 

44. MANAGE SOCIAL MEDIA 

If you enjoy learning about social media and want to take your passion a step further and make an extra side income, social media management is a great option. If you’re good at it, it can open up doors for you down the road.

Every business nowadays needs social media manager. 

45. BECOME A FACEBOOK ADS MANAGER

Use Facebook to make extra side income | Simplifinances

Facebook ads are invaluable to both online and brick and mortar business owners these days. You can bring in $1,000 or more of side income per month with a handful of Facebook ad clients.

If you’d like to take a course and learn the ins and outs of managing Facebook ads for businesses, you should check out the Facebook Side Hustle course that my friend Bobby has put together. 

46. WRITE A BOOK

It doesn’t have to be a novel! Many popular ebooks are less than 50 pages. The Penny Hoarder has a great article that outlines How to Publish Your Ebook and Earn Money

It requires upfront work, but once it’s written you can say you’ve written a book and after that, it’s passive side income.

47. CREATE A COURSE

If you’ve got expertise in a particular area, package up your knowledge into an online course and sell it. This has become a popular business model for online entrepreneurs over the past several years. The two big websites to sell online courses are Udemy and Teachable.

48. START A YARD MAINTENANCE BUSINESS

Depending on where you live, there can be a pretty strong demand for this type of service. If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, this is a great idea!

49. START A WINDOW CLEANING BUSINESS

It’s not glamorous work, but pretty much all brick and mortar businesses need it. Why couldn’t you do it?

50. DESIGN WEBSITES

Every business needs a website, and many are willing to pay a pretty penny to get it done right. I’ve designed multiple websites. I’m in no way an expert, but you could make a high side income specializing in website design. 

51. BECOME A PERSONAL TRAINER

If you have specialized skills in any sport, there are opportunities out there for teaching others the fundamentals (and getting paid).

Who doesn’t want to be fitter and healthier? Becoming a personal trainer might bring in a high side income as you help people reach their goals. 

52. BECOME A FINANCIAL COACH

Use AFCPE to make extra side income | Simplifinances

AFCPE – I wanted to become a financial coach many years ago. So I took and passed the Accredited Financial Counselor exam. You don’t have to do this to coach people. It’s about connecting and building relationships with people. But for me, it lends credibility and shows people I’ve taken my profession seriously. 

Read: The Difference Between a Financial Coach and Financial Planner

Check out the certification.

53. GET PAID TO PERFORM/SPEAK

Use Gigsalad to make extra side income | Simplifinances

GigSalad – GigSalad is the largest and most diverse marketplace for booking bands, performers, speakers, and services for events, parties, and productions of all types and sizes. A great way to make side income if you want to be a performer.

Get paid to share your talents.

54. WHERE TO LOOK FOR MORE SIDE INCOME SOURCES

Use Steady to make extra side income | Simplifinances

Steady – Steady is here to help you look after your financial health. From matching you with job opportunities to make extra money. From providing you a side income tracker to monitoring your earnings, ensuring you have the benefits you need while you work.

Look for more side income streams.

WAYS TO MAKE MORE AT YOUR CURRENT JOB

Ways to make more at your current job | Simplifinances

55. GET A PROMOTION

Easier said than done, I know. But if you’re willing to go above and beyond and prove yourself to management, you can move up the ladder.

56. ASK FOR A RAISE

If you ask for a raise, what’s the worst that could happen? They say no. So why not give it a try?

57. WORK OVERTIME

I’m not a huge fan of trading your time for money, but the offer of working overtime is too good to pass up. Ask your boss if you can pick up extra hours each week.

CONCLUSION

Remember, if you’re struggling to make side income, you don’t have a money problem you have a skill problem.

Many of these ideas are short term, while others could turn in to full-time jobs that require a skill. Focus on developing a skill or a talent stack, and the money will follow. 

Focus on how you can add the most value to other people’s lives. If you focus on developing skills and adding value, you’re not going to struggle.

We all go through different phases of life, and at times, you need to make quick money.

I hope you’ve received value from this post on how to earn side income streams!

The ultimate guide to making side income | Simplifinances

Which one will you get started with? 

Achievement App: Get Paid for Healthy Activity

Achievement App: Get Paid for Healthy Activity

Most people don’t spend enough time on their health. The idea of living a healthy life is a simple concept, but eating healthy and exercising is hard.

You may set out to improve your health only to find yourself unmotivated once again.

What if there was an app to give you a little bit of motivation? Not only to be healthy but to also get paid for it?

Sign me up!

What is the Achievement App?

I’ve been a long time user of the Achievement app since 2016. Every few months, I transfer $10 to my PayPal account for having the app downloaded and tracking my steps.

The Achievement App | Simplifinances

The Achievement app rewards you for healthy activities like steps, tracking your health, and completing health related surveys. It has over 15,000 reviews on the app store and over 3 million members getting paid for health actions.

Here’s what they have to say on their website:

Backed by some of the top investors in Silicon Valley and driven by a social mission to help drive scientific research forward and make America healthier, we literally pay you cash (via direct deposit or PayPal) to do healthy things like walking, eating well, and even sleeping! We also provide any consumer with the opportunity to contribute to cutting edge health research.

And here’s what one user had to say:

“My sister told me about it, and it seemed too good to be true at first. But when she said that she had already received $20, I signed up. It was so easy and a monetary motivation really encouraged me to get up and get moving.”- Estella

Why Should You Sign Up?

Here are 5 reasons you should sign up for the Achievement App today:

Get Paid for Healthy Actions | The Achievement App | Simplifinances
  1. Get paid for healthy actions. I already mentioned this, and it should be the primary reason you sign up. Getting rewarded for making healthy decisions makes sense.
  2. Connect other apps like Twitter and MyFitnessPal to earn more points. When you connect 1 of over 20 apps, you’ll earn points faster.
  3. Redeem your points for cash or give to your favorite charities. You can receive cash, or if you want to make a more significant impact on the world, you can donate your points to a charity. Making healthy choices to help charities sounds like the right thing to do.
  4. It’s one of the top health apps in the app store. Everyone’s doing it, and if you’re not using the app, you’re missing out.
  5. Participate in research. You also have the opportunity to contribute to health research. I answer quick surveys about the coronavirus all the time. I also completed an in-depth study of my allergies and earned $50.

How to Sign Up

To sign up, click this link which will take you to the app store to create an account. Signing up is easy.

They will ask you for basic information to get started like your height, weight, phone number, email, birthday, and address. I believe you don’t have to give all of your information if you don’t feel comfortable doing so.

Once you’ve downloaded the app, you’ve created an account and connected it to Apple Health or Fitbit, the only thing you have to do is leave it on your phone running in the background.

Depending on how many steps per day you take, the faster you’ll be able to cash out. Literally that’s all there is to it.

Sign up for the Achievement App | Simplifinances

Conclusion

I want to help you earn extra income in as many ways as possible. Signing up for the Achievement app is a straightforward life hack that can help you get ahead. Getting paid to make healthy choices makes sense, so why wouldn’t you sign up?

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Making Side Income

Click here to get started with your health journey and get paid.

The Achievement App: Get Paid for Healthy Activity | Simplifinances
How Do You Compare With These 16 Personal Finance Statistics? (2020)

How Do You Compare With These 16 Personal Finance Statistics? (2020)

I don’t know about you, but I enjoy personal finance statistics.

They provide no actionable takeaways whatsoever but it’s fun to see how you stack up with your peers.

Here are 16 personal finance statistics based on the year 2020. How do you compare?

1. Average 401(k) Balance by Age

The average 401(k) amounts by age per Nerd Wallet/NBCNews.com:

  • Ages 20-29: Average 401(k) balance: $11,600. Median 401(k) balance: $4,000.
  • Ages 30-39: Average 401(k) balance: $43,600. Median 401(k) balance: $16,500.
  • Ages 40-49: Average 401(k) balance: $106,200. Median 401(k) balance: $36,900.
  • Ages 50-59: Average 401(k) balance: $179,100. Median 401(k) balance: $62,700.
  • Ages 60-69: Average 401(k) balance: $198,600. Median 401(k) balance: $63,000.

To me, this seems to be a little bit low. It’s no wonder Americans are having a hard time retiring!

2. Amount of Interest Payments Over a Lifetime

“The typical consumer will pay $279,002 over their lifetime in interest payments.” (Credit.com)

That’s crazy! And it’s only in interest payments, not even the principle. Imagine what you could do with nearly 300k!

Would you rather have excellent credit or one million dollars? | Simplifinances

3. Excellent Credit or $1,000,000?

“Nearly a third (32 percent) of respondents would rather have “excellent” credit than receive one million dollars.” (CapitalOne.com)

We place such a high value on having a great credit score in our society when, in reality, all it means is how good are you at borrowing debt. 

I would take the mil in a heart beat.

Related: How to Increase Your Credit Score

4. Emergency Fund Savings By Generation

“59 percent of Millennials have set aside an average of $9,100 in an emergency fund, more than older generations (Gen X-ers have $8,700, while Boomers have $7,100).” (Fidelity.com)

That’s pretty good for millennials!

But remember that having to much cash in a low-bearing interest savings account is a risk because you’re losing purchasing power due to inflation.

It’s a good idea to learn how to put that money to work.

Read: Where to Stash Your Cash

5. Average Earning With Bachelor’s vs. High School Degree

“Those with a bachelor’s degree make an average of $1,000,000 more than those with just a high school diploma.” (BachelorsDegreeCenter.org)

The value of a four-year education is under scrutiny, but I think the numbers speak for themselves. You’re going to make more money in your life if you complete a bachelor’s degree.

That may not be true in all circumstances, and you may be doing fine without a degree, but that’s quite a bit of money.

Read: How Much Does College Cost?

6. Coming Up With Savings

“1 in 3 Americans can’t come up with $2,000 in case of an emergency” (YahooFinance.com)

What this study is talking about is 33% of Americans couldn’t come up with this amount of money without having to sell something or go into debt. Hopefully, this isn’t you!

Read: Using the Jars Money Management System to Manage (AND SAVE) Your Money

7. Paying for Medical Bills

“One-third of Americans would not be able to handle a $100 medical bill without going into debt.” (FoxBusiness.com)

These are probably the same folks that couldn’t come up with $2,000 if they had to. That’s a lot of people living on the edge of a financial crisis!

8. Amount of Debt at Death

“Americans are dying with an average of $62K of debt.” (FoxBusiness.com

Hopefully, you don’t compare to this personal finance statistic because that would mean you’re dead. But because you’re reading this I’m going to assume you’re alive.

Think of how many Americans die each year. That’s a lot of unpaid debt that puts a lot of strain on close family members.

I’ve worked with retired individuals before and you’d be surprised to know how many of them are still carrying their student loans with them with no plans to pay them back. 

How much debt would you leave behind if you passed away?

Related: 3 Debt Pay Off Strategies to Destroy Your Debt

How do women view men with debt? | Simplifinances

9. How Women View Men With Debt

“Women view men as unattractive if they have a lot of debt. For men, physical appearance carries more weight, and debt doesn’t play a role.” (LendingTree.com)

Guys, it’s unattractive if you’re carrying a lot of debt. For the ladies, it’s ok as long as you’re good looking? 

10. An Attractive Person Won’t Date Someone With Bad Credit

“40% of people who self-identify as very attractive wouldn’t date someone with bad credit; more than 60% wouldn’t walk down the aisle with them.” (LendingTree.com)

Going back to the fact that we place a high value on credit scores, it can be embarrassing if you’re dating someone and they find out that you have a low credit score!

If you want to increase your credit score and date someone attractive, read this: How to Increase Your Credit Score. Also, learn how to read a credit report.

11. Checking a Partners Finances Before Marriage By Gender

“4 in 5 women think it’s very important to check your partner’s finances before marriage — only 3 in 5 men do.” 

Marriage is a big commitment!

Make sure you understand what you’re getting yourself into.

I probably wouldn’t ask for a credit report on your first date, but discuss finances before tying the knot.

12. Average Holiday Credit Card Debt & Time to Pay It Off

“The average American racked up $1,054 of post-holiday credit card debt, which will take the average respondent 10.28 months to repay!” (CNBC.com)

Right in time for the holidays again, yay!

13. Combining Finances As A Couple

“55% of couples combine their money, up 4% since last year.” (TD Ameritrade)

What do you guys think? Is it better to combine your finances with your significant other or keep them separate?

My wife and I have had our finances combined ever since we got married.

Spending more on coffee than saving for retirement | Simplifinances

14. Coffee vs. Retirement

“27% of the millennials are spending more on coffee each month than saving for retirement.” (LendEDU)

When you learn about the latte factor, this can have a massive impact on your retirement! 

15. Restaurants vs. Retirement

“49% of millennials were spending more on restaurants and dining out each month than they were saving for retirement.”

I’m not surprised to see this because eating out can get expensive!

And I get the mentality that a lot of millennials have, “why save my money for retirement when that’s so far away? Plus, I could go for a nice burger right now.” 

16. Average Amount Millennials Save Per Month Toward Retirement

“Amongst millennial respondents that were saving for retirement, the average amount saved per month was $480.″

That’s decent!

If you’re saving that amount of money per month starting at age 25 and continue until you retire at 65, you’re going to have over $3,000,000

Personal Finance Statistics Conclusion

These were a few of the many personal finance statistics. And things are always changing, so it’s hard to know what is accurate.

If you’d like a better idea of how you stack up against your peers, download a personal finance app called Status Money. It will show you how you stack up to peers your age, even in your area, for things like net worth, debt, and savings.

Don’t forget, if you’re looking for an attractive mate, it’s essential to not only have a good credit score but avoid debt as well.

I hope these personal finance statistics inspire you to take some action!

16 personal finance statistics | Simplifinances

How Much Does College Cost? Here’s What It Cost Me

How Much Does College Cost? Here’s What It Cost Me

One question most people have asked themselves whether they’ve attended college or not is, “how much does college cost?”

I’ve asked myself that question a number of times.

And now that I’m done, I wanted to find out exactly how much college cost me. The total cost of tuition minus financial aid and scholarships to see what my out-of-pocket cost was.

I recently finished my master’s degree and added up the cost of my associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, and a master’s degree.

There’s no doubt my situation is not applicable to everyone. And if you’ve thought about going to college, it could give you a ballpark estimate of what you can expect to pay for college if your situation is anything like mine.

Here’s how much college cost me.

Related: How to Hack College: 4 Steps to Graduate Debt-Free

Here’s What College Cost Me

Associates Degree

After high school, my goal was to go to the University of Utah. Luckily, things didn’t end up working out and I made the decision to go to a 2-year college.

A decision that saved me over $24,000.

And at the time I was bummed because the University of Utah is the flagship university in my state and I didn’t look into how much it would cost me. In hindsight, not going there for the first two years was the best decision.

I attended Utah Valley University. It’s a 4-year university but I only stayed there for 2 years to complete my general education.

Because my mom was a single mother and I was a dependent on her tax return, I qualified for the full Pell Grant.

Here is the cost broken down by semester and how I paid for it.

Utah Valley University

Year & SemesterTuitionFinancingSource
2010 Fall$2,257$2,775Financial Aid
$10Cash Payment
2011 Spring$2,175$2,775Financial Aid
$20Cash Payment
2011 Summer$808$808Cash Payment
2011 Fall$1,972$2,775Scholarship
2014 Summer$1,460$1,412Financial Aid
$48Cash Payment
2014 Fall$2,749$2,865Financial Aid
Total Cost of TuitionTotal Amount of Funding
$11,421$13,488

Even though it took me nearly 5 years to get my associate’s degree, I was at Utah Valley University for 2 years. The three-year gap between 2012 and 2014 was when I moved to Texas for a church service mission.

The total cost of an associate’s degree was $11,421. But you can see that the total amount of funding was $2,067 more. And this is because after receiving the full amount of financial aid for both years, a scholarship I earned in high school of $2,775 was applied.

I used that extra money to pay for books, room & board, etc.

And after completing my associate’s degree, I then transferred to the University of Utah.

Bachelor’s Degree

I graduated with a degree in business administration in December 2017 from the University of Utah. I knew it was going to be a stretch and the cost of it almost kept me from going.

My plan was to get a degree in finance but I realized corporate finance was not my thing. It also would have cost me more.

Here’s what my four year degree cost me:

The University of Utah

Year & SemesterTuitionFinancingSource
2015 Spring$3,734$2,865Financial Aid
$869Cash Payment
2015 Fall$4,126$2,412Financial Aid
$238Cash Payment
$5,705Student Loan
2016 Summer$1,908$1,908Cash Payment
2016 Fall$6,156$3,813Financial Aid
$4,875Scholarships
2017 Spring$6,096$2,375Scholarships
$2,333Financial Aid
2017 Summer$3,810$3,810Cash Payment
2017 Fall$7,220$2,935Financial Aid
$3,225Scholarships
$1,060Cash Payment
Total Cost of TuitionTotal Amount of Funding
$38,423$38,423

I was at the University of Utah for 3 years. This was the most expensive degree for me. I had to borrow student loans in my first year to cover the cost.

It was a bummer but I had to do it. However, I paid off the student loans by the time I graduated.

The average cost of tuition for a four year degree in the US is $35,572.

The total cost of tuition for me was $38,423.

With that, I was just over the national average for a bachelor’s degree. The fall of 2015 was the first time that I had to borrow student loans. That was a bummer but I had to do it.

Master’s Degree

After finishing my bachelor’s degree I took a semester off and decided to move to Texas for a master’s degree. The master’s degree was in personal financial planning and I chose Texas Tech for three reasons:

  • The cost of tuition was low
  • I received a scholarship and qualified for in-state tuition
  • And received a fellowship that help cover the cost

In hindsight, I’m very happy with my decision to get my master’s degree there.

Related: How to Embrace Financial Success in Your 20’s

Here is the cost broken down by semester.

Texas Tech University

Year & SemesterTuitionFinancing Source
2018 Fall$9,468$7,315Scholarships
$2,153Cash Payment
2019 Spring$7,936$6,485Scholarships
$1,450Cash Payment
2019 Fall$8,527$6,997Scholarships
$1,530Student Loans
2020 Spring$4,845$2,063Scholarships
$2,087Cash Payment
Total Cost of TuitionTotal Amount of Funding
$30,775$30,079

You can see that I no longer qualified for financial aid for a master’s degree. Because of that, getting scholarships was more important to me.

I did borrow $1,500 in student loans during my time at Texas Tech but also was able to pay that off by the time I graduated.

How much does college cost? | Scott Henderson at Texas Tech University | Simplifinances

The Total Cost of College

I’m grateful that I was able to qualify for financial aid and I thank the Department of Education for helping me complete my education.

And I’m grateful for all of the donors that trusted me with a scholarship. I wouldn’t have been able to complete college if it wasn’t for them.

Here is the total cost of college:

Total Financial AidTotal ScholarshipsOut-of-Pocket TotalTotal Student LoansTotal Cost
$28,742$33,334$12,304$7,235$80,617

Is College Worth The Cost?

Now that I have a good idea of how much college cost me, I can accurately assess whether or not college is worth the cost. The total cost of college for three degrees was $80,617. That seems like a lot, but that’s accurate because I didn’t pay that out of pocket.

I only paid $19,539 between student loans and personal savings. And that was over a 10 year period. And you also have to factor in the cost of living during those years, also the opportunity cost if I wasn’t working.

Honestly, there were a lot of mistakes I could have made in college but tried to avoid them.

So, was college worth the cost?

Absolutely.

Here’s why:

  • I took advantage of the financial aid that was available to me
  • Scholarships that I aggressively pursued
  • I constantly found ways to decrease my cost of living
  • Through college, I was always working and making side income so I didn’t have to borrow much in student loans
  • I won’t be repaying student loans for the next 10+ years
  • And ultimately, it was worth it because I can demand a higher wage for the rest of my working career. It took a few years of sacrifice upfront but I know my income will be higher because I have a master’s degree.

If you’re still wondering if college is worth it and how much does college cost for you, the answer depends.

But don’t let the cost of it keep you from continuing your education because it may be less than you think. And if you can take advantage of the help that is available to you, it will be that much more worth it.

Why Is College So Expensive?

College has increased 100% in the last 20 years. That means college is now twice as expensive as it was in 2000. That’s crazy! And nothing has increased at that same rate.

College is expensive. And it’s only getting more expensive.

You may not qualify for financial aid. You may not receive any scholarships. College tuition in your state may not be as affordable as Utah and Texas. You may have to borrow an insane amount of student loans at high rates to finish your degree.

If this is you, you really have to ask yourself if college will be worth it. As the cost of tuition rises, we have to scrutinize college.

As college gets more and more expensive, I have to help my son decide in 16 years if it will be worth it. I honestly don’t know if it will be. He most likely won’t qualify for financial aid. He’ll have to get scholarships, borrow student loans, and work his way through school.

I started a 529 college plan for my son before he was born but my plan is to only help him cover the cost of room and board and a computer. I don’t plan on paying tuition for any of my kids.

Read: Should I Set Up A College 529 Savings Plan?

The Bottom Line

As college gets more and more expensive, I have to help my son decide in 16 years if it will be worth it. I honestly don’t know if it will be. He most likely won’t qualify for financial aid. He’ll have to get scholarships, borrow student loans, and work his way through school.

I started a 529 college plan for my son before he was born but my plan is to only help him cover the cost of room and board and a computer. I don’t plan on paying tuition for any of my kids.

You may be reading this for yourself or you may be reading this for a child. And if you are, you may still be wondering how much does college cost. I can’t give you that answer because so much depends on the situation. But I’ve given you a clear idea of what it costs me and told you if it was worth it for me or not.

8 Investing Mistakes I Made With My Roth IRA

8 Investing Mistakes I Made With My Roth IRA

When you were younger, were you ever told investing was important but didn’t have the slightest clue how to get started?

When I was a teenager, I knew compound interest was important and wanted to get started as soon as possible.

And so I did.

But this led to many investing mistakes! Things I wish I could go back and change. But sometimes the best way to learn something is to just start doing.

So here’s 8 investing mistakes I made while getting started with my Roth IRA.

1. I Picked Bad Investments

The first investing mistake I made was I started out by putting money in a CD, buying silver coins, or letting it build up in my savings account.

Turns out, these were bad investments and I wish I could have started with something different.

This was before I even knew what a Roth IRA and I was simply interested in investing and so a Certificate of Deposit and silver coins seemed like a logical thing.

2. Waited Too Long to Get Started

When I first started earning income at the age of 12, I wish someone would have told me to start my Roth IRA. 

I didn’t realize how powerful Roth IRAs were until the age of 22.

That’s when I finally decided to start one. 

That’s 10 years during great economic conditions that I didn’t have my savings invested in the market. Even though I felt like I waited too long to get started at age 22, according to Motley Fool most people don’t start saving for retirement until age 31.

When I decided to start one, I was banking with USAA and spoke with one of their financial representatives.

I told him I would like to open a Roth IRA which required a minimum of $500 to fund and an automatic monthly contribution of at least $50.

I said ok, and in February 2016 I started my Roth IRA.

3. Took Someone Else’s Advice

I trusted whatever the guy from USAA said, not really knowing what I was doing. Once I signed the papers, I was just glad I had started one. 

This later turned out to be a big investing mistake.

The person from USAA told me what he thought would be a good investment for me and I took his word for it.

Even though I later found out why taking someone else’s advice was a bad idea, I diligently maxed out my Roth IRA of $5,500 (the contribution limit for 2020 is $6,000).

4. Didn’t Know What I Was Invested In 

Because I was young, being somewhat aggressive was important to me. I went with the most aggressive 100% equity mutual fund (so I thought), which was called the USAA Cornerstone Aggressive Retail (UCGAX).

It was made up of large-cap and blended funds and has a Morningstar rating of below average

I started tracking my returns over those few years and wanted to understand how it all worked but it somehow always ended up being quite a bit lower than benchmarks such as the S&P 500 or Russell 2000.

Looking back, I honestly had no idea what I was invested in. At least I got started and was putting money into it every month, right? 

5. Didn’t Pay Attention to Fees

Fees were not something I considered when I opened a Roth IRA. It was something we didn’t discuss on the phone, I just took the reps word for it.

However, a year or two later, I started learning about fees and the impact they can have on a portfolio over an investing lifetime.

I dug into the fine print of the USAA Cornerstone Equity Fund and figured out how much I was paying in fees (more on that later).

Turns out, companies like to make it difficult to find how much you’re paying in fees and what the long-term impact on a portfolio would be.

6. Bought Actively Managed Funds

While digging into the fine print years later, I discovered I was invested entirely in actively managed mutual funds and was being charged a 1.2% expense ratio!

Meaning, they charged 1.2% of my portfolio annually.

These are high fees! And I didn’t even have access to a financial advisor.

And the fees were even higher when you factored in trading costs, cash drag, etc. 

The person on the phone told me, “don’t worry so much about fees because what you’re paying for is someone to actively manage your investment instead of just letting it sit in some boring old index fund.” I thought, “what’s an index fund?”

Here’s what’s funny, I actually believed him. I thought, “of course, if you pay more in fees you’re going to get a higher rate of return, right?”

Over 90% of the time that’s false. Unless you’re Warren Buffett.

7. Left Too Much In Cash

When I first started transferring money from my bank account to my Roth IRA, I was making the mistake of thinking that was all I had to do.

After some time, I realized the cash I transferred was sitting in a money market account which is basically the same thing as a savings account!

Related: Where to Stash Your Cash

I didn’t realize I had to actually go in and invest the funds myself. 

When I started deploying the cash, I thought I was in a 100% equity fund.

But their most aggressive option was between 70% – 80% equities and 20% – 30% fixed income. This money was going to be invested for 40 years and I was sitting on nearly 30% bonds in my early twenties!

That didn’t make any sense.

8. Compared My Results With Benchmarks

Comparing my results was one of the investing mistakes because it caused unnecessary stress.

But in the end, it was good because I compared my return against the S&P 500 and was underperforming quite a bit ( I should say A LOT).

I didn’t get it because it was “actively managed.”

During my first year, my investment earned 5.65% gross of fees. So my net return was 4.45%. 

That same year the market as a whole earned a rate of return of 21.31%!

Only one year did the fund perform better than the S&P 500 because it lost less money (which was in 2008).

Related: I Don’t Know How to Invest & I’m Scared I’ll Make a Mistake

What Changed For Me?

For those that aren’t sure of what a Roth IRA is and why you would want to open one, I will share a few things.

If you already know the benefits of a Roth IRA, go ahead and skip to the next section. 

A Roth IRA is simply a retirement savings account that anyone with earned income can start. “Roth” is the last name of Senator William Roth, the person who came up with the idea.

And “IRA” stands for “Individual Retirement Account.” 

The money you deposit has already been taxed. So when you go to withdraw the funds at age 59½ or for qualifying reasons before age 59½, you don’t have to pay taxes on what you withdraw. 

Roth IRA vs. Traditional IRA | Simplifinances

How Are Roth IRAs Taxed?

Imagine you’re a wheat farmer. You plant seeds and harvest the wheat.

Would you rather pay taxes on the seed or the harvest?

Your decision is solely based on whether you think taxes will be more in the future.

You’ll pay tax on the seed now if you think taxes will be higher in the future or pay taxes on the harvest if you think taxes will be lower in the future.

I’m a big fan of the Roth IRA, especially if you’re young, even if your employer offers a 401(k) (which you should be contributing to also).

However, if you also open a Roth IRA, instead of contributing more to your 401(k) above and beyond the employer match, you could put that extra money in a Roth IRA.

Why would you want to do that?

Can You Access Money In a Roth IRA?

You can take your contributions out of a Roth IRA anytime you want.

You may withdraw your contributions penalty-free at any time for any reason, but you’ll be penalized for withdrawing any investment earnings before age 59 ½ unless it’s for a qualifying reason such as purchasing a house, education, or the Coronavirus pandemic.

Age 60 may sound like an eternity and who knows what’s going to happen between now and then. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to access your funds if you really needed them?

I recommend not taking the money out but isn’t it nice to have options?

If you have all of your money tied up in a Traditional IRA or 401(k), the only way you can access any funds before age 59 ½ is paying a 10% penalty or taking out a loan against it. Or if something like the CARES Act comes along.

I Jumped On The Vanguard Bandwagon

After learning about fees, asset allocation, and risk tolerance, I sought out the best investment for myself. I stuck with USAA for about a year and decided to start looking at Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs).

The fees are lower, I could have my target asset allocation, and they’re more tax efficient.

But even the funds I was finding had an expense ratio of ~0.30%.

So after exhausting my options, I decided to jump ship and transferred my Roth IRA to Vanguard

Vanguard was started by a man named John Bogle in 1975 with the goal of bringing to the individual investor the option to invest in broad-based low-cost index funds.

And as the name implies the company has been a vanguard in the financial services industry. Their average net expense ratio is 0.10% (U.S. asset-weighted fund expenses as a percentage of 2018 average net assets).

Why a Vanguard Roth IRA?

Their core purpose is, “To take a stand for all investors, to treat them fairly, and to give them the best chance for investment success.”

I’m a big fan of Vanguard and when you combine it with the benefits of a Roth IRA, the chances of investment success start to look really nice. 

I invested the majority of my funds in the US stock market with a little exposure to the rest of the world.

Now I wake up every morning knowing every person in America goes to work to make me rich. By owning the entire stock market, I own a small share of every publicly traded company in the U.S.

So I ended up investing in ETFs such as the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund ETF (VTI) which had an expense ratio of 0.04% and is now 0.03% and the Vanguard Total World Fund ETF (VT) which has an expense ratio of 0.09% (Average expense ratio of similar funds is 1.11%).

Here’s What Would’ve Happened Had I Not Fixed My Investing Mistakes. 

If I maxed out my Roth IRA every year for 40 years while it was invested in UCGAX, my expected return would be about 4.8% after fees.

This would hypothetically leave me with $632,850 when I retire. Not Bad.

But, because I no longer hold bonds, my expected return currently is 9.97% (10% expected VTI return  – 0.03% expense ratio).

I would expect to have $2,414,490 by the time I retire! 

The same amount of money was invested in both cases but the returns, asset allocation and fees are way different!

That’s a BIG deal.

I can’t say this will be 100% accurate but this is no small number guys! It’s worth it to learn about investing and make sure you don’t make the same investing mistakes I did.

Summary

I made a lot of investing mistakes: 

  • I picked bad investments
  • Waited too long to get started
  • Took someone else’s word for it
  • Didn’t know what I was invested in 
  • Didn’t pay attention to fees
  • Left too much in cash
  • Bought actively managed funds
  • Constantly measured my results

You don’t have to make the same investing mistakes that I did.

Take the investing mistakes I’ve made and learn vicariously through me so you can get started the right way.

It’s never too late to get started. And it’s never too late to change things. 

If you’d like to get a better grip on your finances and avoid making investing mistakes, sign up for my Free 7-Day Transform Your Finances email course here.

And if you’d like to read the book that opened my eyes to investing and helped me realize all of the investing mistakes I’ve made, it’s called the Simple Path to Wealth.

Disclaimer:

This information has been presented as general education purposes. I am no longer an investment advisor and have not taken your specific situation into account so please don’t take any of the information presented today as investment advice. Consult with an investment professional if you’d like to learn more about investing for your future. 

Investing Mistakes | Simplifinances

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