Vital Dollar Personal Finance Blog Thu, 15 Aug 2019 11:17:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Dollar 32 32 Earn Cashback Easily and Passively with the Dosh App Thu, 15 Aug 2019 11:15:43 +0000 An inevitable fact of life is that we all have to spend money. Earning cash back on necessary expenses can be a huge win and with the right approach you can easily rack up a significant amount of cashback over the course of a year. There are several different ways that you can earn cashback […]

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An inevitable fact of life is that we all have to spend money. Earning cash back on necessary expenses can be a huge win and with the right approach you can easily rack up a significant amount of cashback over the course of a year.

There are several different ways that you can earn cashback on your purchases, including:

  • Paying with cashback or rewards credit cards
  • Using cashback websites and apps like Rakuten and TopCashback
  • Automated apps that make it super-easy to earn cashback with little-to-no effort on your part

The Dosh app falls into the last category. It takes just a few minutes to set up, and then you can earn cash back on qualifying purchases automatically.

If you’re like me and you love to maximize the cashback and rewards that you earn, Dosh should be a part of your strategy.

This article will explain all of the important details and answer questions that you might have about Dosh.

What is the Dosh App?

While cashback apps and websites are very popular, there are many different types. Websites like Rakuten and TopCashback make it easy to earn cashback from your online purchases. Even other sites like Swagbucks and MyPoints have very strong cashback components for online shopping.

Dosh is much different than the cashback apps/sites listed above. The most interesting thing about Dosh (in my opinion) is that it takes very little effort and is mostly passive.

After you sign up for a free account with Dosh, you’ll link your credit or debit cards to the app. Whenever you make a purchase at a participating store or restaurant using one of your linked cards, you’ll earn cashback. You don’t need to scan receipts or claim offers. It takes just a minute to link a card, and then you’ll be all set to earn cashback whenever you make a purchase at a store or restaurant that participates in Dosh’s program.

The amount of cashback that you’ll earn will vary, but most of the offers in my local area are for 3-5% cashback. Some of the offers are from national chains (including Sam’s Club, Pizza Hut, Denny’s, Cater’s, and more) and many are smaller local restaurants and retailers. Most other cash back programs only cover national brands, so the local offers are a nice touch that is somewhat unique to Dosh.

From inside the Dosh app, you’ll be able to see all of the in-store offers that are near your current location, which makes it very easy and convenient to see where you can earn cashback.

Aside from the in-store offers, you can also earn cashback for some online purchases. Dosh lists these offers separately from the in-store offers, and in order to get credit for the online purchases, you will need to click through a link in the app before you make the purchase. Some of the online offers are for up to 10% cashback.

A new addition to Dosh is the capability to earn cashback for hotel stays. From within the app, you can browse hotel rooms and you’ll see exactly how much cash back you can earn if you book the room through Dosh. From my initial testing, the hotel prices through Dosh are similar to what you’ll find on the major booking comparison sites, but the amount of cashback you can earn by booking through Dosh is pretty significant in a lot of cases. This is a great, and easy, way to save money on travel.

Signup for Dosh through this link and get a free $5 bonus when you link your first debit or credit card.

Pros of Dosh

Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why you may want to sign up for a free account with Dosh.

Passive Cash Back

As I mentioned earlier, earning cashback with Dosh is extremely easy and won’t take up much of your time. In just a few minutes, you can sign up and link your cards. That’s all you have to do to be able to earn cash back for in-store purchases.

For online purchases or hotel bookings, you’ll need to click through the links in the app, but generally it’s a passive way to earn cashback. Compare it to apps that require you to scan or photograph receipts and you will love the ease of using Dosh.

In-Store Offers, Online Offers, and Cashback on Hotels

There are several different ways that you can earn cashback with Dosh. You’re not limited to simply in-store purchases or simply online purchases. Both are options, plus, now you can earn cashback for hotel bookings. Dosh offers more variety than some other apps.

Significant Offers

Many of the in-store offers will give you 5% cashback, which is pretty significant for something that you would be buying anyway. Some of the online and hotel offers are even better.

Great for Stacking Rewards

This is my favorite part! You cashback that you earn through Dosh is in addition to rewards from your credit card. You can stack Dosh cashback with cashback or rewards from your credit card to maximize what you’ll earn. More on this later.

Earn Cash, Not Gift Cards

Many cashback apps and websites will compensate you with gift cards. Free gift cards are great, but they’re not quite as great as cash. Dosh pays you in cash, not gift cards.

Free $5 Bonus

Right now, Dosh is offering a free bonus of $5 when you link your first debit or credit card.

Sign up for Dosh and get a $5 bonus when you link your first credit or debit card!

Get Your Bonus Here

Cons of Dosh

Of course, there are also some aspects of Dosh that are not perfect.

You’ll Have to Link it to Your Debit or Credit Card

In order to earn that passive cashback, you’ll need to link Dosh with your credit or debit cards. Dosh takes security very seriously (more details in a minute), but some people may prefer to not use the app for this reason.

You’ll Only Earn Cashback at Participating Stores and Restaurants

Unlike a cashback credit card, you won’t earn cashback on every purchase. While Dosh already has many offers for in-store and online purchases, the app could be made better with more options. In my opinion, the Drop app has better offers for cashback. Dosh is still relatively new, so hopefully they will be able to increase the number of offers that are available.

Is Dosh Safe?

The first question that many people ask: “Is Dosh safe to use?”

Dosh uses 256-bit SSL encryption to keep your personal info safe. That may not mean very much for you, but basically it means that Dosh is proactively protecting data from would-be identity thieves.  Also, Dosh does not store your credit card or banking information. While nothing is ever 100% safe, Dosh seems to be doing everything possible to protect users.

Is Dosh Legit?

When it comes to easy ways of making money, most people start to wonder if it is a scam. Dosh is not a scam, and it is a legit way to earn cashback. You’re not going to get rich from Dosh, but if you’re stacking it with a good cashback credit card, you can easily earn some money from the things you need to buy anyway.

Is Dosh Worth It?

Cashback apps that allow you to earn a relatively small amount of money may seem insignificant, but it really adds up. My answer is, yes, Dosh is worth it.

Why? Because you’ll only need a couple of minutes to sign up and link your cards, and then you’ll be all set to earn cashback on in-store purchases. Online purchases and booking hotels will take one small extra step (clicking through the Dosh app), but it’s definitely worth the small amount of time and effort needed.

How Do I Start Earning Cash Back with Dosh?

If you’re interested in using Dosh to earn some extra cashback, getting started is very quick and easy. Just sign up for a free account here, and then follow the prompts to link your credit or debit cards. It’s extremely easy. And once you link your first card, you’ll get the free $5 bonus added to your account.

Stacking Rewards and Cash Back

Earlier I mentioned that one of my favorite things about Dosh is the ability to stack rewards and cashback. Hopefully, you’re already using a good rewards credit card, so simply by using Dosh you will be double-dipping on the rewards. If your credit card earns you 2% cashback for a purchase and Dosh is giving 5% at that store, you’ll earn a total of 7% cashback with no extra effort.

But stacking rewards can be even better when you combine it with other things like store loyalty programs. To see a much more detailed guide, please read my article How to Stack Rewards and Cash Back.

Signup for Dosh through this link and get a free $5 bonus when you link your first debit or credit card.

Dosh App Review


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Masterworks Review: Should I Invest in Art? Tue, 13 Aug 2019 18:13:43 +0000 This article is sponsored by Masterworks. All opinions are my own. Conventional investments like stocks and bonds (including mutual funds that invest in stocks and bonds) are the core of most portfolios. While alternative investments provide opportunities for diversification, and in some cases, higher upside, many alternative investments have traditionally only been available to the […]

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This article is sponsored by Masterworks. All opinions are my own.

Conventional investments like stocks and bonds (including mutual funds that invest in stocks and bonds) are the core of most portfolios. While alternative investments provide opportunities for diversification, and in some cases, higher upside, many alternative investments have traditionally only been available to the wealthy. However, alternative investments have become more accessible to the average investor, which means there are more options available for everyone.

Some examples of alternative investments include:

  • Real estate
  • Private equity
  • Venture capital
  • Hedge funds
  • Commodities
  • Collectible assets like art, wine, or coins

Fine art is one example of an investment that has traditionally not been available to the average person. Most people don’t have a few million dollars at their disposal to purchase blue-chip art, like an original Andy Warhol.

Masterworks is changing that by allowing anyone to invest in fine art created by some of the world’s greatest artists. They take a crowdfunding approach, and they are the first company to offer this type of platform for art investors.

What is Masterworks?

Masterworks is a New York-based company that was founded in 2017 by Scott Lynn, who has been a contemporary art investor for more than 15 years. Masterworks purchases paintings based on data that indicates the potential to appreciate by 9-15% per year, and they try to purchase below market value. After Masterworks has purchased the piece, they file an offering circular with the SEC. After it has passed the SEC and FINRA review process, Masterworks sells shares to investors for $20 per share.

The intent is to own a painting for 3-7 years before selling to a collector, but that is a loose timeframe. Offers to purchase can be made at any time and all shareholders will be able to vote. If the majority vote to sell, the piece is sold and funds will be distributed to investors, after the fees and costs are deducted.

Masterworks is also planning to facilitate the trading of shares, but at this time that is not an option. As it stands now, your investment with Masterworks is not liquid and you’ll own your shares until the piece is sold. A platform that allows shares to be bought or sold would provide investors with more flexibility and liquidity. This type of platform is in the long-term plans for Masterworks, but there is no guarantee that it will happen.

Is Art a Good Investment?

A question you may be asking yourself: “Is art a good investment?”

Artprice’s Global Index tracks the performance of art as an investment. The Artprice100 index tracks the performance from top artists, so it’s a better comparison to the blue-chip pieces that Masterworks is purchasing. “The composition of the Artprice100® is adjusted by a scientific committee every January 1st to reflect the evolution of the Art Market. The index essentially identifies the 100 top-performing artists at auction over the previous five years who satisfy a key liquidity criterion (at least ten works of comparable quality sold each year). The weight of each artist is proportional to his/her annual auction turnover over the relevant period.” (source)

Since 2000, the Artprice100 has significantly outgained both the Artprice Global Index and the S&P 500.

Artprice100 Performance

(chart by

This data indicates that investments in pieces created by top artists performance much better art from lesser-known artists. What may be more surprising is how much better the Artprice100 has performed compared to the S&P 500 over an 18 year period.

Of course, this data is based on the collective results of 100 top artists. The results of one specific painting may be better or worse.

Masterworks Pros

Here are some of the major reasons why you might want to consider investing in art through Masterworks.

Not Limited to Accredited Investors

Historically, fine art is an investment that has only been an option for the ultra-wealthy. Masterworks has changed things by allowing even small investors to get involved. Unlike many other popular alternative investments, you don’t need to be an accredited investor to invest with Masterworks and own a share of art from a renowned artist.

Focus on Blue-Chip Art

When I first heard about Masterworks, I assumed it was a platform for investing in no-name artists. However, that’s not the case at all. The fact that Masterworks focuses only on blue-chip artists is a big deal because it gives you the best chance to earn a healthy return on your investment.

Access to an Investment that Would Otherwise Be Unreachable for Most Investors

Aside from Masterworks, currently there is really no other way for the average investor to invest in blue-chip art. Now, anyone can own a share in a piece from someone like Warhol, Monet, or Picasso.

Potential for Strong Returns

As we looked at earlier, pieces from leading artists have the potential to significantly increase in value over time.

Alternative Investment

Not only does it give you the potential to increase in value, but it also adds some diversification to your portfolio. The value of art isn’t directly tied to the stock market, and since many valuable pieces are owned by very wealthy individuals, the value should not be as susceptible to a decline in economic conditions.

Masterworks Cons

Like any investment, there are some cons as well.

Lack of Liquidity

The typical holding period is 3-7 years, which means you won’t be seeing your money for quite some time. And as of now, the shares can’t be sold (that may be an option in the future), so this is a very illiquid investment.

A lot of alternative investments lack liquidity, so you just need to be sure that you’re only investing money that you won’t need in the near future.


Your investment with Masterworks will have a 1.5% annual fee, which covers things like insurance and storage. Masterworks will also keep 20% of any profits that are made when the piece is sold. This fee will definitely impact your returns, but it does ensure that Masterworks will do its best to buy pieces that will increase in value over time.

No Guarantee of Investment Gains

Although blue-chip art has performed well over time, there is no guarantee that your investment will produce a positive return, especially considering that you are investing in individual pieces instead of a broader index. However, that risk also comes with the potential for your investment to do very well.

Relatively New Platform

Masterworks hasn’t been around very long. It’s impressive that they’ve been able to change the way average people can invest in art, but like any new platform, it doesn’t have much of a track record yet.

Who Is It For?

  • Investors looking for alternative investments – Alternative investments should make up a small percentage of your portfolio, while more traditional investments form the core of your portfolio. If you have the core part of your portfolio taken care of, and you’re looking to diversify with some alternative investments, you may want to consider Masterworks.
  • Investors who are willing to wait 3-7 years to see results from their investment – In order for this investment opportunity to be a good fit for you, you’ll need to invest with money that you won’t need for several years, since you’ll have little control over when you get paid from your investment.
  • Those who are interested in art – While it’s not an absolute requirement that you have an interest in art in order to invest with Masterworks, the idea is likely to me more appealing to those who already have an interest in art. In general, it’s a good idea to have some familiarity with the things that you invest in, so this could be a good opportunity for those who already have an interest in art.

Important Details

Most of these details were mentioned earlier in the article, but to summarize, here are some of the key details about investing with Masterworks:

  • You don’t need to be an accredited investor.
  • You can buy shares in a painting for just $20 a piece, but the total minimum investment will vary based on the offering.
  • The typical term for an investment is 3-7 years, but it can be longer or shorter.
  • Masterworks charges a fee of 1.5% per year, plus they’ll keep 20% of profits when any of the paintings are sold.
  • Masterworks invests in blue-chip art from well-known artists.

If you are interested in learning more about Masterworks or investing, please visit their website.

Masterworks Review - Should I Invest in Art?

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17 Income Producing Assets to Grow Your Wealth Mon, 12 Aug 2019 10:20:22 +0000 One of the keys to building wealth is investing in income-producing assets. These assets make it possible to grow multiple streams of income, and they can also serve as sources of passive income that require little-to-no work on your part. Regardless of whether you’re looking for a source of retirement income or just for ways […]

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Income Producing Assets

One of the keys to building wealth is investing in income-producing assets. These assets make it possible to grow multiple streams of income, and they can also serve as sources of passive income that require little-to-no work on your part.

Regardless of whether you’re looking for a source of retirement income or just for ways to grow your wealth faster while you are still working, income-generating assets should be a key part of your plan.

According to research done by Tom Corley, 65% of millionaires have at least 3 streams of income (source). If you want to join them in the ranks of millionaires, creating and developing multiple streams of income should be near the top of your list of priorities.

→ Related reading: Living Off Dividends: How to Use Passive Income to Cover Your Living Expenses

Income Producing Assets

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular, practical, and realistic options for generating income from your assets.

1. Rental Properties

When you think about income-producing assets, real estate and specifically rental properties may be the first thing that comes to mind. Many millionaires have built their net worth by purchasing rental properties that consistently generate income month-after-month.

A rental property could be a condo or townhouse, or it could be a single-family home. Multi-unit properties, like duplexes and larger apartment buildings, can be especially lucrative for landlords.

Of course, owning rental properties can also come with a lot of work and effort on your part. If you don’t want the responsibilities of being a landlord, you can outsource the property management to make it a more passive source of income. You can maximize the cash flow and keep more of the money in your pocket if you’re willing to put in some work and manage the property on your own.

One of the nice things about owning rental properties is the fact that it can be done on a small scale or a large scale. You can buy a single rental property to get started, or just rent your own house when you move instead of selling.

A single rental property can produce some monthly cash flow, in the right scenario, or you could scale up and purchase many different rental properties to grow your empire.

Getting Started: Read How to Generate Income from Rental Property

Highlights of Rental Properties:

  • Proven method for growing wealth used by many millionaires
  • Can be done on a small scale or a large scale
  • Requires a lot of work if you are managing the properties yourself

2. Short-Term Rentals

Instead of renting out a house or property to a tenant, you could focus on the short-term market for people who are traveling. This could involve turning your existing home into an income-generating asset by renting a single room or a unit, if the home has a separate unit.

Aside from renting out a room or a unit in your home, another option is to own a vacation home and rent it out. It’s possible that you could use the home for yourself and your family at times throughout the year, and then rent it out when you’re not using it to make some money from this valuable asset.

You can make very good money with short-term rentals, but typically, there will be more work involved because you’ll be cleaning the room/unit and turning it over frequently.

While it’s possible to make money by purchasing a property for short-term renatals, probably the best (and lowest-risk) way to get started is to rent out a room or unit in your existing home. You may be able to start making some money from your home with little-to-no upfront investment.

Getting Started: Read my interview with Riley on how to rent a room on Airbnb to read a great story about a couple that has turned their home into an income-generating asset.

Highlights of Short-Term Rentals:

  • Rent a room or unit in your home or a vacation home
  • Turn your unused space into income
  • Requires work to clean the room/unit between tenants

3. Real Estate Crowdfunding

Investing in real estate appeals to many people, but the hands-on nature of owning property and being a landlord prevents many people from getting started. Fortunately, there are ways to invest in real estate with or without owning property.

One of the easiest ways to get started with real estate investing is through crowdsourcing. There are many different online platforms that allow you to invest in real estate without the need to own or manage properties, making it a great option for many people.

Although a lot of different companies fall under the umbrella of real estate crowdfunding, there are a few different possibilities:

Investing in individual properties

Some platforms like Groundfloor, EquityMultiple, and PeerStreet allow you to invest in specific properties, but even within these options there can be a big difference in the projects.

Groundfloor is open to any investor and you can get started with as little as $10. As an investor, you’ll be providing money that will be used by flippers and real estate developers. Most of the projects are short-term (6-12 months) and on average you can earn about 10%, although the details vary depending on the specifics of the project.

EquityMultiple and PeerStreet are for accredited investors only. With EquityMultiple, you’ll be investing in commercial real estate with a minimum investment as low as $5,000. PeerStreet has a minimum investment of $1,000 and you can select from the available projects, with most of them being residential.

Investing in portfolios

There are some platforms that allow you to invest in a portfolio of properties, rather than investing in a specific property. The most popular platform for this type of investment is Fundrise. Fundrise offers a few different portfolios that you can choose from. The Starter portfolio allows investors to start with as little as $500. They also offer three different Core portfolios (supplemental, balanced, and long-term growth) that each has a minimum investment of $1,000. The Core portfolios allow you to choose something that fits your needs more specifically than the Starter portfolio.

Getting Started: The easiest way to get started with real estate crowdfunding is to invest with Fundrise. You can sign up in just a few minutes and you don’t need to choose the projects. You’ll be investing in a portfolio. You can also see this article for more options: Real Estate Crowdfunding for Non-Accredited Investors.

Highlights of Real Estate Crowdfunding:

  • An easy way to invest in real estate without owning or managing properties
  • Options are available for accredited and non-accredited investors
  • Invest in individual properties or portfolios of properties

4. REITs

REITs (real estate investment trusts) are another popular way to invest in real estate without owning and managing property. The REIT owns income-generating properties and as an investor, you can get many of the benefits of owning real estate without the headaches.

There are many different types of REITs available. Some focus on residential properties, while others focus on commercial properties. Some are publically traded, while others are private. Private REITs tend to be very illiquid, so it’s not an investment that you should make if there’s a chance you could need the money at any time in the near future.

Getting Started: You can invest in REITs in many different ways. If you already have a Vanguard account, they have a few different REITs available. Alternatively, while it’s not a traditional REIT, Fundrise‘s eREIT investments offer basically the same thing.

Highlights of REITs:

  • An easy way to invest in real estate without owning or managing properties
  • There are many different types of REITs available
  • Private REITs and non-traded REITs are illiquid and not ideal for short-term investors

5. Equity in Your Home

Through a reverse mortgage, it’s possible to turn the equity in your home into a source of income. Reverse mortgages will only be an option for a small percentage of people, and although there are a lot of drawbacks and things to be concerned about, a reverse mortgage can be a decent option in the right situation. However, those situations are rare.

Reverse mortgages are only available to homeowners who are 62 years of age or older. The homeowner can get money, in a lump sum or paid out monthly, and the loan is not paid until the home is sold or the homeowner dies.

While details can vary, you’ll typically need at least 50% equity in your home in order to qualify for a reverse mortgage.

Another way to leverage the equity in your home for income is a home equity loan or a  home equity line of credit, which come with fewer restrictions and qualifications than a reverse mortgage.

Highlights of Using Equity in Your Home for Income:

  • Only an option in certain situations
  • Generally not advised, but can be a good solution in the right situation
  • Can provide a lump sum of cash or an ongoing income

6. Dividend Stocks

The stock market is, of course, one of the most popular types of investments. Whether you prefer to purchase individual stocks or invest through mutual funds or ETFs, the stock market is a great way to build wealth.

Some companies pay dividends to shareholders, which can be either reinvested to buy more shares, or paid out as cash. Many of the companies that consistently pay dividends to shareholders are huge, well-known brands that have been around for a very long time. These types of stocks tend to be less volatile than the stock market as a whole, and they are often viewed as a great long-term buy-and-hold investment.

When it comes to investing in dividend stocks, you can take a DIY approach to research stocks and determine which ones you want to buy, or you can take a more hands-off approach. The hands-off approach could be to invest in a mutual fund that focuses on dividends or to use the robo advisor Emperor Investments.

If you don’t want to do a lot of research on your own, Emperor Investments will create a custom stock portfolio for you. You can get started with Emperor Investments for as little as $500, and you can create your own goals that will factor into the portfolio that is selected for you.

Personally, I really like the ease and convenience of Emperor Investments, and I’ve been a customer since late 2018. You can read my Emperor Investments review here.

Getting Started: The easiest way to get started is to create an account with Emperor Investments and invest at least $500. Alternatively, you can do your own research to pick stocks and take a DIY approach.

Highlights of Dividend Stocks:

  • Dividends can be reinvested or taken as cash
  • Good long-term investment
  • Take a DIY approach or use the robo advisor Emperor Investments to create a portfolio for you.

7. Peer-to-Peer Lending

Peer-to-peer lending platforms like Prosper and Lending Club allow investors and borrowers to match up and skip the bank. Borrowers typically get better deals than they could get through a bank (or maybe they couldn’t get approved by a traditional bank), and lenders are able to earn a nice interest rate by serving as the bank.

There is definitely some risk involved in peer-to-peer lending, but you’ll have the freedom to select the level of risk that you’re willing to accept. Of course, higher risk means higher interest rates and (potentially) higher rewards.

Getting started: Getting started with peer-to-peer lending is pretty easy. You’ll create an account at Prosper or Lending Club and you can choose the borrowers that you want to lend to. Both platforms also make it easy for you to enter your preferred criteria to let the platform find the appropriate investment opportunities without dedicated time to going through the details of each borrower. Prosper allows you to start investing with as little as $25, while Lending Club has an initial investment minimum of $1,000.

Highlights of Peer-to-Peer Lending:

  • Choose the level of risk that you are willing to accept
  • Get started with as little as $25
  • Earn money as borrowers pay back the loan each month

8. Low-Maintenance Business

Owning a business can be a great way to generate income, and there are some types of businesses that tend to be low-maintenance. These businesses can be ideal for producing extra income without interfering too much with your existing life or job.

While there are a lot of different possibilities, here are a few common choices:

  • Vending machines
  • Laundromats
  • Car washes
  • Storage facilities

These types of businesses aren’t extremely dependent on the owner or employees to function. Of course, there will be some work involved, but they can be more passive than many other types of businesses.

Some types of franchises could also fall into this category, especially if you own the business and you’re hiring others to manage it.

Getting started: You could either buy an existing business or start your own. Options like laundromats, car washes, and storage facilities will require land or a storefront, so you would need to lease or buy the appropriate land or facility. A vending machine business is easier to get started because you can buy one machine, find a place to put it, and stock it.

Highlights of Low-Maintenance Businesses:

  • The goal is to own a business that runs with very little human involvement
  • Ideally, the business will generate income for you mostly on autopilot
  • You could grow and expand as you have success with your first one

9. Online Business

Another type of business that has the potential for passive income is an online business. Although plenty of online businesses require a lot of work and effort to keep them moving forward, some other business models are better suited to generate income without turning into a full-time job.

There are several different options and it won’t be possible to cover them all here, but these are a few that you could turn to an online business to produce income:

Buy Existing Websites and Blogs

A lot of work and effort goes into building a profitable and successful website, but you can skip that stage by purchasing an established online business that is already profitable. Of course, you’ll need some capital to invest, but in the right situation, it can be a great investment that outperforms more traditional investments. Once you purchase the website/business, you could outsource any work that you’re not willing or able to do on your own.

Start a Niche Website

While blogging gets a lot of attention as a great way to make money online, running a blog can be high maintenance. A much lower-maintenance alternative is to create a niche website instead.

A niche website is similar to a blog, but the content is highly focused on one particular topic. The main reason that niche websites can be lower maintenance than blogs is that the majority of your traffic is likely to come from Google searches and so you won’t have a lot of regular readers who visit your site frequently waiting for new content. If you’re busy and you have no time to publish anything new, it’s not a big deal with a niche website. Also, the types of content published on niche websites are easier to outsource, so you may not be doing a lot of the work yourself.

To learn more, see my guide to building niche websites here.

Sell a Digital Product

Digital products, like ebooks, can be perfect for generating ongoing income. If you have traffic to a website or blog and you have a digital product that appeals to those visitors, that’s a great formula for generating ongoing income. It will take some time and effort up front to create the product, or you can hire someone else to do it for you.

If you’re interested in learning more about ebooks, please see my article How to Write, Create, and Sell an Ebook.

Getting Started: While buying an existing website is one way to get started, I highly recommend that you get some experience by creating your own website before investing in another site. Once you have some experience, you can think about buying a site. Niche websites are great for beginners and you can see my article How to Make Money with Niche Websites.

Highlights of Online Business:

  • Some, but not all, types of online businesses can produce income without too much involvement on your part
  • You can outsource the work to other people if you want to make it passive
  • Niche websites are a great starting point for beginners

10. Private Equity

While private equity investing can be a highly profitable option, it’s not available to most people and so I won’t cover too many details here. A private equity investment involves investing in privately-held companies that use the capital with the goal of rapid expansion and growth.

Private equity investments are available only to accredited investors and in many cases, they will come with very high minimum investments. It’s a high-risk, high-reward investment. If you invest in the right company you may see an incredible return. But you’re far more likely to lose your investment since such a high percentage of startups fail.

Getting Started: If you want to learn more, please see How to Invest in Private Equity.

Highlights of Private Equity:

  • High risk, high reward
  • Not a realistic option for most people
  • Don’t invest money that you can’t afford to lose

11. Bonds

Bonds can be a low-risk way to earn some income. When you purchase a bond you are loaning money to the government. The bond will have a maturity date and as long as you hold it until the maturity date, you’ll receive the amount you invested plus interest.

The return you’ll get from bonds will be lower than almost any other option covered in this article, but bonds are also lower in risk. Bonds are also illiquid (generally).

Getting Started: You can get government bonds at TreasuryDirect.

Highlights of Bonds:

  • Government bonds are a low-risk investment
  • The return on your investment with government bonds will be low, but it’s safe.

12. Royalties

Royalties are most commonly associated with music, although there are other possibilities as well (like art). Artists and musicians can make loads of money from royalties, but you don’t have to be one in order to profit. Whoever owns royalty rights is the one who will be making the money, and that presents an investment opportunity.

Investing in royalties is nothing new. Royalty rights have been bought and sold for a long time, but what is new is the accessibility for the average person. Royalty Exchange is a website that allows musicians to raise money by selling royalty rights to their music.

If you’re looking for an alternative investment that is capable of producing on-going income, this could be a great option.

Getting Started: You can create an account at Royalty Exchange and start investing in royalties very quickly.

Highlights of Royalties:

  • It’s possible to make a lot of ongoing income from royalties
  • Royalty Exchange makes it easy to get started
  • Like any other investment, it’s a good idea to understand the investment before investing

13. Annuities

An annuity is an insurance product that requires you to make either a lump sum payment or a series of scheduled payments. In return, you’ll receive regular disbursements (such as monthly) in the future. The primary purpose of an annuity is to provide income after retirement.

Annuities can provide a fixed income or they can be variable. Fixed annuities are invested in bonds and will provide lower returns while variable annuities are likely to be invested in mutual funds, with the goal of a higher return.

To learn more about annuities, please read How Do I Know if Buying an Annuity is Right for Me?

Highlights of Annuities:

  • There are a lot of varying opinions when it comes to annuities, but they can be a good choice in the right situation
  • Be aware of fees involved
  • Work with a trusted advisor (not a salesperson) before purchasing an annuity

14. Car

A car is generally not an asset that will produce income for you. However, there are a few ways to change that.

The first option is to rent out your car when you are not using it. Websites like Turo and Getaround allow you to list your car for rent, and you have full control over when it is available. Depending on when and how often you need the car, you may be able to rent it out at times and still have use of it when you need it.

The second option is to place advertisements on your car. Companies like Wrapify and Carvertise allow you to make up to $400+ per month if you are willing to allow advertisers to put their ads on your car. The most lucrative ads are full wraps that will cover your entire car.

Getting Started: Complete forms at Wrapify and Carvertise to see if there are opportunities to put ads on your car. If you’re interested in renting your car, simply create a profile and list it at either Turo or Getaround.

Highlights of Using Your Car for Income:

  • You can generate income from an asset that typically does not produce income
  • Renting out your car can be lucrative, but it may or may not fit with your schedule and your needs
  • Placing ads on your car is a great option if you live and work in a high-traffic area

15. RV or Camper

Do you own an RV or camper? If so, you probably only use it at limited times throughout the year (unless you live in it). Most RV and camper owners will use it only for a few weeks out of the year, and then it sits the rest of the time.

You can turn your RV or camper into an income-generating asset by renting it out. It may sound complicated, but it really doesn’t have to be. You might even be able to rent it to people you know a few times per year. Even a few rentals could bring in enough money to help offset some of the expenses of owning it.

There are also a number of websites that make it easy for you to list your RV or camper for rent, and you might be surprised at how much money you can make.

  • RVshare – Earn $120 – $365 per day.
  • Outdoorsy – Estimates $420 – $840 per rental.
  • Campanda – Earn up to $45,000 per year.
  • U Rent Me – List RVs, boats, ATVs, motorcycles, and more.

I’m not suggesting that you should go out and buy an RV for the purpose of making money by renting it out, but if you already have an RV or camper, you own an asset that is capable of producing some extra income for you. And if you are considering purchasing one for your family, maybe this is a way to make it more affordable.

Getting Started: Create a listing on any of the sites above so renters can find you and your RV or camper.

Highlights of Renting Out an RV or Camper:

  • Turn a stagnant asset into an income-producing asset
  • RVs and campers can bring in a nice amount of money from rentals
  • There are a lot of people looking to rent RVs and campers

16. Land

If you own land, there are some ways that you can use it to make money. Of course, it depends on factors like the location, size of the land, and characteristics of the land. Here are a few options that may be possible.

Rent it Out to Pet Owners

Sniffspot is a website that allows you to list your yard or land and dog owners can pay to bring their dog. Of course, you’re more likely to have success with this closer to urban areas where land is harder to come by.

Rent it Out to Farmers

Shared Earth helps to match landowners with farmers. You can list your land to make it more visible for farmers who might want to rent it. You can also rent it privately if you’re able to find a renter.

If you have a yard, but not enough land for a farm, you may be able to rent it out to someone who wants a garden. You can list it at YardYum and others will be able to find it when they are looking for a place to start a garden.

Rent it Out for Storage

There are a few different ways that you could rent out your land for storage. Many people who own RVs, campers, boats, and other large vehicles will need to rent a place to park it. You can make decent money by offering up some of your available land for this purpose. You can list your space on Stow It or rent it out privately.

Do you have a barn, garage, or shed that you could rent out for storage? If so, you could rent it privately or list it at sites like Store At My House and Neighbor.


If you have a large wooded lot, you may be able to make some money by selling timber. Likewise, if you have the land, you can also plant and grow trees with the goal of selling timber in the future (you’ll need a lot of patience).

If you don’t have enough land to grow large amounts of timber, you may be able to grow smaller trees and plants on your land. This article talks about 10 profitable types of trees that you can grow.


  • If you have land, there are a lot of different ways to make money from it
  • Your options will be influenced by the amount of land and the location
  • Even with smaller amounts of land, you may be able to make money by renting out space for a garden or growing trees

17. Safe Investments (Savings Accounts, Money Markets, CDs)

While not the glamorous investments, conservative options like savings accounts, money markets, and CDs are also a possibility.

The problem with these investments and savings vehicles is that the interest rate is low, so you may not even keep up with inflation. However, the liquidity and lack of risk make these safe investments appropriate for many situations.

Getting Started: Online banks like CIT Bank have the best rates for savings accounts, money markets, and CDs.

Highlights of Safe Investments:

  • You won’t get rich with these investments, but they have a place in your portfolio
  • Inflation may exceed the interest that you earn
  • Savings accounts and money markets are ideal for money that you may need to access quickly


Using your assets to produce income is an essential part of building wealth. Regardless of whether you are looking to use your assets to generate money for living expenses or simply to grow your wealth faster, there are a lot of different possibilities.

While this is not an all-inclusive list, this does cover many of the most common options. Once you’ve read through the article, pick a few options that seem like a good fit for you and get started.

READ NEXT: 9 Steps to Financial Independence

Income Generating Assets to Become a Millionaire

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7 of the Best Budgeting Apps Thu, 08 Aug 2019 11:56:49 +0000 With numerous budgeting apps available on the market, it’s essential you know which ones are the best and what they have to offer so you don’t waste your time, money, and privacy. The best budgeting apps take into account your lifestyle and financial situation, can be tailored to your budgeting style, and offer great customer […]

The post 7 of the Best Budgeting Apps appeared first on Vital Dollar.


Best Budgeting Apps

With numerous budgeting apps available on the market, it’s essential you know which ones are the best and what they have to offer so you don’t waste your time, money, and privacy.

The best budgeting apps take into account your lifestyle and financial situation, can be tailored to your budgeting style, and offer great customer service.

Let’s take a look at the leading contenders.

Why Use a Budgeting App?

The primary reason you should use a budgeting app is because it helps you save money. These apps provide organization so you are informed, as you ought to be, of exactly where all of your money is coming from and going to.

Many people, once they start tracking their expenses, are shocked to see how much more money they spend than they think. Using a budgeting app will help you see where all of your money is going and thus, how you can cut back on your spending and save a significant amount of money.

There are a few different ways to keep track of your budget. Some people may prefer a budget template or spreadsheet, but many people prefer the convenience of a mobile app.

The 7 Best Budgeting Apps

All of these apps have something different to offer. The “right” app for you will be the one that meets your needs and fits with your own situation.

1. Mint – The Best Overall Budgeting App


This app, owned by Intuit, (which also makes QuickBooks and TurboTax), is widely considered to be one of the best budgeting apps. It offers numerous features that help you manage your money from a huge list of banks, brokerages, lenders, credit card companies, and other financial institutions.

Mint links up to any of these accounts and categorizes your spending habits in sections like gas and fuel, groceries, clothing, etc.

Another great aspect of Mint is it sends push notifications, alerting you when you have a bill payment coming up, an overly large purchase, or when you overdraw on an account.

Price: Free

Key feature(s): Mint sends push notifications for important transactions; no other app does this.

Device availability: iOS and Android

2. You Need a Budget (YNAB) – The Best Budgeting App for Hands-On Users

You Need a Budget

Like Mint, YNAB connects with your credit cards and bank accounts, importing any and all transactions into the app’s database.

YNAB differs from other budgeting apps in that it assigns a “job” to every dollar that comes into your account. The dollar can be assigned to living expenses, debts, investments, savings, and any other job you want that dollar to work towards.

With every dollar being accounted for, you can rest assured that no money will be wasted and that every dollar will be used on important things.

YNAB also has a great feature called “budget inspector”, which allows users to view a quick summary of their cash flow and expected spending.

Price: Free 30-day trial, then either $5 per month or $50 per year

Key feature(s): YNAB forces you to think about every single dollar you spend by assigning it a job.

Device availability: Desktop, iOS, Android, and Amazon Alexa devices

3. EveryDollar – The Best Budgeting App for Passive Users


EveryDollar is Dave Ramsey’s budgeting tool. That alone will attract a lot of users to this app.

This app creates a monthly budget. You start by adding your monthly income and then plan your expenses with a customizable template. All you do from here onwards is follow the plan you made and track your spending.

There is a free version and a plus version of the app. The free version allows you to create unlimited budgets, track transactions, and provides email support.

The plus version allows three additional features: the ability to connect your bank for faster expense tracking, viewing account balances with EveryDollar, and call-back support along with coaching calls.

Price: Free with limited features or $99 per year for all features

Key feature(s): Ease of use as it provides you with a customizable template.

Device availability: iOS and Android

4. Personal Capital – The Best Budgeting App for Investors

Personal Capital

A combination of a robo-advisor and a finance app, Personal Capital is the perfect app for an investor.

The Personal Capital app is free to use, and there are some really nice features like net worth tracking, expense tracking, and reporting based on your investments. Net worth tracking is probably the strength of Personal Capital, and the app links to your accounts to automatically calculate and track your net worth.

As far as budgeting is concerned, Personal Capital can help you to track your expenses. The budgeting features and functionality aren’t quite on par with the other apps in this list, but the net worth tracking and reporting features (plus the fact that it’s free) make Personal Capital worthy of your attention.

In addition to the app, Personal Capital also wealth management services that are somewhat of a cross between a traditional advisor and a robo advisor. The account minimum for the investment services is $100,000. You can invest this money is numerous appreciable assets, from real estate to stocks. This app provides hands-off management and expert tax-harvesting.

Price: The app is free, the fee for wealth management is 0.89% of the total managed assets

Key feature(s): Is both a robo-advisor and a budgeting software so you are not only saving money but earning it.

Device availability: Desktop, iOS, and Android

Get a $20 Amazon Gift Card for Trying Personal Capital

Right now, Personal Capital will give you a free $20 Amazon gift card just for trying their app. All you need to do is sign up through this page and then link at least one financial account. After you link one account, you’ll receive an email with the gift card.

5. Wally – The Simplest Budgeting App


Wally allows you to enter all of your income sources and expenses manually, allowing you to view all of your personal finances at any time.

Though many may find this tedious, it’s beneficial to individuals with multiple accounts and/or those who worry about giving all of their personal financial data away.

A further benefit of this app is that it supports almost every currency in the world, making it a great choice for foreigners.

Price: Free

Key feature(s): Very simple software that gets the job done. It is also the best option for foreign countries not supported by the other apps.

Device availability: iOS and Android

6. Goodbudget – The Best Budgeting App for Couples


This is the best budgeting app for couples. It is based around the familiar and simple “envelope system” of budget planning, where couples pool all of their personal finances into the app and divide them into compartments.

At the beginning of each month, you place defined amounts of money into each envelope and renew at the beginning of the following month.

It is great for couples since Goodbudget allows multiple users to log into a single account across several devices.

You can also manually import transactions/expenses into your account(s).

Price: Free with basic functions and 10 envelopes or the Plus version with premium features and unlimited envelopes for $6 per month or $50 per year

Key feature(s): Allows you to add multiple users’ financial data into one account.

Device availability: Desktop, iOS, and Android

7. PocketGuard – The Best for Protecting Your Money


As you may have guessed, PocketGuard is the best for guarding your money and keeping you from overspending.

This app allows you to link all of your financial accounts and helps track your spending compared to your budget on a monthly basis.

It’s one of the easier apps to setup. Simply connect your accounts and PocketGuard will track your earnings, any bills, everyday expenses, and savings account(s).

This app has a unique feature that allows you to track each individual bill and find ways to save by providing suggestions on where to cut back and it even searches the internet for better deals on internet, cell service, and more.

Price: Free

Key feature(s): Provides great suggestions and better deals along with the normal budgeting software, saving you more money.

Device availability: iOS and Android

What to Look for in a Good Budgeting App

Though budgeting apps will vary in many ways, there are a few attributes that make a budgeting app good and all of them will share these.

1. An App That Suits Your Style

There are tons of budgeting apps on the market, with each one targeting specific individuals with specific wants and needs. Some are designed for individuals who want complete control over their budgeting. Others are designed for persons who want a laid-out strategy and template with which all they do is plug in numbers.

Some apps, as you will see in this article, help reinvest a user’s money to earn more money rather than just save.

2. Platform Availability

What good is a budgeting app if you can’t use it? Some budgeting apps do not work on certain devices such as laptops or iPads. It is important to make sure that the budgeting app you use (and possibly pay money for) is compatible with the device(s) you plan to use it on.

3. Good Customer Service

Technology can and does malfunction from time-to-time. There may be things that you don’t understand about your budgeting app and you need help with it.

The best budgeting apps ensure that you have access to great customer service and tech support.

They will allow you to contact them through a number of avenues, namely phone and email, and help you easily and comfortably.

If you are really bad at using technology, you may search for budgeting apps that offer extended customer service options. This is, however, probably not necessary since tech support will walk you through everything simply, on the phone or email.

READ NEXT: How to Create a Budget That Works

Best Budgeting Apps

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How to Become a Bookkeeper Mon, 05 Aug 2019 12:50:43 +0000 If you’re you’re looking for a job with a nice salary that doesn’t require a college education, bookkeeping could be a great option. According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual pay for a bookkeeper in the United States is over $58,000, with high earners making over $100,000. Not only does it offer excellent income potential, but […]

The post How to Become a Bookkeeper appeared first on Vital Dollar.


How to Become a Bookkeeper

If you’re you’re looking for a job with a nice salary that doesn’t require a college education, bookkeeping could be a great option. According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual pay for a bookkeeper in the United States is over $58,000, with high earners making over $100,000.

Not only does it offer excellent income potential, but working as a bookkeeper may also give you the opportunity to work from home, as a growing number of bookkeeping jobs are being done remotely.

This article will cover all of the details related to what a bookkeeper does, qualifications for the job, and how to become a bookkeeper.

→ Related reading: 20 of the Best Jobs for Stay at Home Moms and Dads

What Qualifications Do You Need to Become a Bookkeeper?

There is no education or certification officially required to work as a bookkeeper. Many entry-level bookkeeping jobs require only a high school diploma, although the specific requirements can vary depending upon the company and the position.

Some bookkeeping jobs may require an associates degree or some comparable work experience, which can also include other types of administrative work. Many companies also offer internships in bookkeeping and related roles, so high school and college students may be able to gain some valuable experience this way.

Most companies that hire bookkeepers will be willing to provide on-the-job training, so even without a college degree and without experience, you may be able to find work as a bookkeeper.

How Do You Get a Bookkeeping Certification?

The American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB) offers a certified bookkeeper program that may be something you want to pursue after you have some experience. In order to qualify as a certified bookkeeper, you will need at least two years of work experience in the field and you’ll need to pass a test.

Obviously, with the requirement for previous work experience, getting certified is not something that you can do to get into the field, but once you have the two years of experience, the certification can help to open up new opportunities and/or increase your income.

What is the Difference Between a Bookkeeper and an Accountant?

Bookkeepers are sometimes called accounting clerks. While the exact details will vary depending on the job, bookkeepers generally deal with the day-to-day financial duties, which can include:

  • Managing payroll
  • Entering debits and credits
  • Managing receipts and invoices
  • Managing and maintaining financial records
  • Reconciling any discrepancies
  • Running and reading financial reports

While bookkeepers will usually manage the daily finances, accountants may be responsible for:

  • Preparing tax returns
  • Providing advice related to tax issues
  • Ensuring compliance with legal regulations

Overall, accounting is more analytical in nature and requires more experience and knowledge, while bookkeeping is more administrative. In some cases, bookkeepers may be supervised by or report to an accountant. The accountants may rely on the information and data prepared by bookkeepers.

→ Related reading: 30+ of the Best Weekend Jobs to Make Extra Money

How Much Does a Bookkeeper Make?

Bookkeeping can be a great job, especially considering the fact that a college degree is generally not required. As was mentioned in the intro, ZipRecruiter reports that the average annual income of bookkepers in the United States is $58,233, with the majority ranging between $28,000 and $71,500. According to ZipRecruiter, some bookkepers earn salaries as high as $140,500.

Of course, there are a lot of factors that will influence how much you can make as a bookkeper. Entry level jobs will often be at the lower end of the range, but you may also want to consider that self-employed freelance bookkeepers typically have the potential for higher income, as compared to bookkeepers who work for an employer.

Another factor to keep in mind is the fact that there is a lot of demand for bookkeepers. Just like accountants, bookkeepers are needed by almost every business.

The combination of excellent income potential, high demand, and low requirements in terms of education and experience make working as a bookkeeper a very appealing option. And if you’re working as a freelancer, you can add flexibility and the opportunity to work from home to the list of reasons to consider a career as a bookkeeper.

→ Related reading: How to Become a Virtual Assistant

How to Get Started as a Bookkeeper

Now that we’ve looked at what’s involved and you’ve seen that it looks pretty enticing, you may be wondering how get started as a bookkeeper. Here are some steps that you can follow.

Step 1: Meet the Basic Requirements

Like any other type of job, the exact requirements can vary depending on the company that is hiring, but in general, the minimum requirement to work as a bookkeeper is a high school diploma. If you’re a high school graduate, you’ve got enough qualifications to consider pursuing work as a bookkeeper.

Step 2: Look for Openings

Bookkeeping jobs are pretty common, so general job boards like Indeed can be a good starting point. Alternatively, here are two other sources that you might want to consider:

  • FlexJobs – FlexJobs specializes in remote jobs and all opportunities are vetted for legitimacy. It costs a little bit of money, but a FlexJobs subscription can save you a lot of time and help you to find a remote job as a bookkeeper.
  • AccountantList – This site posts bookkeeping jobs, as well as a list of companies that hire remote bookkeepers and accountants.

Step 3: Apply

Get your resume ready and apply to any job listings that look like a good fit.

Step 4: Get Some Experience (if Needed)

If you don’t have any luck getting a job right now, you may want to consider some ways that you can prepare yourself for a bookkeeping job in the near future. Here are a few options:

  • Take an internship that will give you bookkeeping experience.
  • Take another administrative role that will give you some valuable skills or experience that could help you to land a bookkeeping job.
  • Get training or certification for QuickBooks. Intuit will help you to get training and prepare you for the exam to earn certification. Having this certification can be a big help with proving your qualifications for a job.

Starting a Freelance Bookkeeping Business

An alternative to finding a job as a bookkeeper would be starting your own freelance bookkeeping business. Freelance bookkeepers have a higher income potential, as well as the flexibility to work from home and adjust their working hours.

Of course, your success and income would depend on your ability to find clients. The good news is that as a freelance bookkeeper, most of your clients would be on-going, so once you have several clients, you shouldn’t need to spend much time looking for new work.

As a freelancer, you’ll need to be sure that you have the necessary skills and experience before taking clients. You won’t benefit from the same on-the-job training that you would likely get from an entry-level position with an employer. Ideally, you’ll have some experience before starting to work as a freelancer, but some people have gotten training independently and began their career as a bookkeeper by freelancing.

The QuickBooks certification front Intuit can be great training to improve your skills in preparation of freelancing. You could also take a course like Bookkeeping Basics at Udemy.

Finding Clients

Here are a few different ways that you could find clients for your bookkeeping services.

Set Up Your Own Website

Having your own website can make it easier for potential clients to find you, and it also gives you some added credibility. Your website can provide information about the services you offer, answer any frequently asked questions, provide your bio and qualifications, and make it easy for people to get in touch with you.

Optionally, you could also have a blog at your website and publish articles on related topics, which could result in more traffic for your site and more new clients.

Starting a website is pretty easy. You can sign up with Bluehost for just $2.95 per month here.


One of the best ways to find clients is through your personal and professional network. Tell people what you’re doing, especially those who are business owners or people who work for businesses that may benefit from your services. You can also attend local networking events, like chamber of commerce functions.

Post an Ad on Craigslist

You can post an ad in the services section of your local Craigslist page to easily and quickly increase visibility. You may be surprised at what can happen with a simple Craigslist ad. You can also post ads in other nearby locations to increase exposure even more.


Indeed is one of the easiest job boards to search. A simple search for “freelance bookkeeper” will find a number of listings, and then you can filter the results from there to get more specific.


FlexJobs, also mentioned earlier, will cost a monthly subscription, but it’s an excellent service that can help you to find opportunities. Some of the opportunities are for remote workers who would be employees, but there are freelance opportunities available too.


If you’re looking for a great career option that doesn’t require a college degree, working as a bookkeeper could be a great choice. Follow the steps in the article to look for jobs or launch your own freelance business

READ NEXT: 150+ Side Hustle Ideas to Make Money in Your Spare Time

How to Become a Bookkeeper

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7 Steps to Grow Your Net Worth Thu, 01 Aug 2019 12:14:06 +0000 Net worth is one of the most common ways of measuring your overall financial situation. If you’re looking to build wealth, you should be tracking your net worth. Contrary to what you might think, net worth tracking isn’t just for millionaires. Your net worth is a good overall gauge of your financial health and it […]

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Steps to Grow Your Net Worth

Net worth is one of the most common ways of measuring your overall financial situation. If you’re looking to build wealth, you should be tracking your net worth.

Contrary to what you might think, net worth tracking isn’t just for millionaires. Your net worth is a good overall gauge of your financial health and it can be useful for measuring your progress and determining if you are on track to meet your goals, especially goals related to retirement.

Here are some steps that you can follow if you’re looking to increase your net worth.

Calculate and Track Your Net Worth Easily with Personal Capital

Personal Capital is a free app that syncs with your bank accounts, investment accounts, and credit cards to automatically calculate and track your net worth. It’s easy to set up and very powerful. Right now, Personal Capital is also offering a free $20 Amazon gift card just to try it. To get the gift card, sign up here, and after you’ve linked your first account, you will get an email with the code for the $20 gift card.

Step 1. Pay Down Your Debt

Monthly payments on debt are a big part of the budget for many people. If you’re able to pay off your debts, that frees up a lot of money each month that can be used for saving and investing to grow your net worth.

Your monthly budget may currently include:

  • Student loan payments
  • Car payments
  • Credit card debt and interest payments
  • Personal loans and other types of debts

If so, getting these paid off can make a huge impact on your ability to quickly increase your net worth.

The best way to go about paying off debt is to attack it aggressively. Commit to paying it off as quickly as possible, even if it means making some sacrifices.

Both the debt snowball and debt avalanche approaches allow you to focus your efforts and pay off debts quickly. I won’t go into a comparison of the two methods here, but if you want more information you can see this article: debt snowball vs. debt avalanche.

Once you have your consumer debt paid off, you’ll have extra money that you can use each month to grow your net worth.

→ Related reading: How to Calculate Your Net Worth

Action Step: Create a list of all of your debts. Choose the debt snowball or the debt avalanche as your approach to pay off the debt and commit to eliminating that debt. You can use our debt snowball worksheet to help.

Step 2. Track Your Expenses

Reducing your expenses will obviously free up more money that you can save or invest. If you want to spend less, you should be tracking your expenses. Creating a budget is common financial advice, but a having budget won’t do you any good if you’re not actually sticking to it. There’s no way to know if you’re sticking to your budget unless you are also tracking your expenses.

Even if you don’t currently live off of a budget, tracking your expenses can be well worth the small amount of time and effort required. When you see how you are really spending your money, you can easily identify areas where you’re spending more than you expected and you can adjust your habits accordingly.

Tracking your expenses doesn’t have to be difficult. You can use an app, a simple spreadsheet, or print out a spending log and keep track of it with pen and paper.

Action Step: Decide on a method for tracking your expenses (use an app, create a simple spreadsheet, or use our printable spending log). Record your expenses at the end of each day. Also check your credit card and checking account statements at the end of each month to make sure you didn’t miss anything. Categorize the expenses and add them up to see how much you are spending in each category. Adjust your spending for any areas that are too high.

Step 3. Maximize Your Retirement Contributions

If you have access to a 401(k) plan through your employer, this should be one of your first saving/investing priorities, for a few reasons:

  • You can set up automated contributions, which makes it easier and eliminates the risk of forgetting to contribute.
  • Your contributions can lower your taxable income and decrease the amount that you pay in taxes.
  • You may get a matching contribution from your employer, which is free money.

Most employers that offer a 401(k) plan will offer some sort of matching contribution, although the amount and details will vary. You should be contributing enough to get the full match offered by your employer.

For example, if your employer will match your contributions up to 4% of your salary, you should be contributing that 4% so you can get the full match. Contributing more will help your investment to grow faster and can reduce your taxable income further.

After your 401(k), the next priority should be to contribute to an IRA (Traditional or Roth), if you are eligible for the tax benefits. Like a 401(k), contributions to a traditional IRA can reduce your taxable income. While anyone can contribute to a Traditional IRA, contributions will not be tax deductible if your income is over a certain limit. The limits below are based on modified adjusted gross income (MAGI):

  • Single individuals with income over $137,000 cannot make tax-deductible contributions.
  • Single individuals with income between $122,000 and $137,000 can make a partial contribution that is deductible.
  • Married couples filing jointly with income over $203,000 cannot make tax-deductible contributions.
  • Married couples filing jointly with income between $193,00 and $203,000 can make a partial contribution that is deductible.

Contributions to a Roth IRA will not reduce your taxable income, however, the growth and future withdrawals will not be taxed. There are also some income requirements that restrict who is eligible to contribute to a Roth IRA. The restrictions below apply based on modified adjusted gross income (MAGI):

  • Single individuals with income over $137,000 are not eligible.
  • Single individuals with income between $122,000 and $137,000 can contribute a reduced amount.
  • Married couples filing jointly with income over $203,000 are not eligible.
  • Married couples filing jointly with income between $193,00 and $203,000 can contribute a reduced amount.
  • Married couples filing separately are less likely to be able to contribute to a Roth IRA. See this page for details.

The IRA contribution limits for 2019 are $6,000 (if you’re under 50) or $7,000 (if you’re 50 or over), and that applies to both Traditional and Roth IRAs. That is a total amount that you can contribute to either type of IRA, or a combination of both types.

Maximizing your retirement savings is one of the best things you can do to grow your net worth.

→ Related reading: 5 Steps to Get Your Retirement Savings on Track

Action Step: Check with the human resources department at your employer to get the details of your 401(k) plan and any match from the employer. Set up automatic contributions so that you’re getting the full match. For any extra retirement savings above and beyond the 401(k), decide whether you want to use a Traditional IRA or a Roth IRA. You can easily open an IRA with Vanguard or Fidelity. Set aside a percentage of each paycheck to be contributed to the IRA.

Step 4. Increase Your Savings Rate

Your savings rate is an important number that can play a big role in your journey to financial independence. Your savings rate is simply the percentage of your disposable income that you save. Obviously, increasing savings allows your net worth to grow faster.

Increasing your savings rate and reducing expenses go hand-in-hand. As you spend less, you’ll have more to save.

The previous point covered retirement savings, but you should also work to grow other savings and investments outside of retirement accounts. The retirement accounts give some nice tax benefits, which is the main reason why you’ll want to prioritize these accounts. But if you improve your savings rate and max out your contributions to retirement accounts, you can continue to save and invest that money in other ways.

Here at Vital Dollar, we have a number of articles that cover different ways to save money, including:

Action Step: Calculate your savings rate (your monthly savings divided by your monthly after-tax income). Work to increase your savings rate by applying some of the tips covered in the articles linked above.

Step 5: Invest

Once you’re saving more money, you may wonder what you should do with it. Of course, you could keep it in low-risk investments like savings accounts or CDs, but if you want to maximize your net worth, you should invest in other ways.

Investing your money into income-generating assets is one of the best ways to grow your net worth over a period of time. Here are several different options:

Rental Properties

One of the most proven ways to grow net worth and wealth is to accumulate rental properties. As a property owner, you can make money from the rent payments each month, as well as from the appreciation of the property values over a period of time.

→ Related reading: How to Generate Income from Rental Property

Real Estate Crowdfunding

If you like the idea of investing in real estate, but you don’t want to be a landlord, real estate crowdfunding can be a great option. You can invest and get many of the benefits, without the need to do will properties or tenants.

There are many different real estate crowdfunding platforms, with some of the best options for new investors including:

Crowdfunding also makes it possible to get started with real estate investing on a small scale. The minimum investment will vary on each platform, but Groundfloor, American Homeowner Preservation, and Fundrise are ideal for smaller investments.

→ Related reading: Real Estate Crowdfunding for Non-Accredited Investors

Mutual Funds and ETFs

One of the easiest ways to invest your money is with mutual funds and ETFs. You can create an account with Vanguard or Fidelity and invest in low-cost (or free) index funds, target date funds, and others. These types of investments are great for a long-term buy and hold approach.

Dividend Stocks

Some people love dividend stocks and others avoid dividends at all costs. There are pros and cons on both sides of the argument.

If you want to get started, you can do your own research to find companies that consistently pay dividends and pick the ones that you want to invest in. A more hands-free approach is to use Emperor Investments. They will create a custom stock portfolio for you, made up of companies with a solid history of paying dividends. It’s a great hands-free approach to investing in stocks. Your read more in our review of Emperor Investments.

Robo Advisors

Robo advisors can be a great option if you want to invest but you don’t have the time to research on your own, or if you lack the confidence for a DIY approach. A robo advisor will create a customized portfolio based on things like your timeframe and your tolerance for risk. All you need to do is provide the money and the robo advisor will do the investing for you.

Betterment and Wealthfront are two of the most popular robo advisors right now. Betterment charges 0.25% per year and there is no minimum balance, which makes it perfect for new investors. Wealthfront also charges 0.25%, with a minimum balance of $500.

Emperor Investments, mentioned in the previous point, is a robo advisor that specializes exclusively in stocks. Their fee is 0.6%, but since all of your investments will be in stocks, there are no hidden fees like mutual fund or ETF management fees. The minimum to get started with Emperor Investments is $500.

Your Own Business

Alternatively, you can also invest your money into your own business. It could be a business that you already own, or it could be a business that you’ve always wanted to start. Of all of the investment options listed here, this one has the potential for the biggest upside.

The time and money that I’ve invested into my business since 2007 has been by far the biggest factor in my own pursuit of increasing net worth.

A few possibilities for flexible online businesses include:

Action Step: Choose an investment approach that is a good fit for you. If you’re new to investing or unsure, a robo advisor like Betterment, Wealthfront, or Emperor Investments can be a great approach. They’ll customize your portfolio to your own situation.

Step 6: Buy a Car for the Long-Term

In the first step, we looked at the need to pay off debt. Car payments can have a huge impact on your overall debt, your monthly budget, and your ability to quickly increase your net worth.

One of the worst things you can do is buy or lease a new car every couple of years. You’ll never get away from high car payments and your ability to save and invest will always be impacted.

If you hold on to your car for a long time and don’t buy another car until yours needs to be replaced, you’ll put yourself in a much better financial position. You’ll be able to pay off your car and save up before buying another one.

When you buy a car, plan to own it for the long-term. Make sure that you buy a car that will suit your needs for several years to come.

Action Step: You don’t need to take any action on this one until it is time to buy a car. When that time comes, choose a car that you won’t need to replace for a long time (and preferably one that won’t need constant repairs).

Step 7: Increase Your Income

If you’ve followed all of the steps so far, you’ve done a lot to improve your financial situation and you’re now able to save and invest more money to build your net worth. But the other way to speed up the growth of your net worth is to increase your income.

Increasing your income without increasing your living expenses will allow you to save and invest even more each month, and you can drastically speed up your progress.

It’s easy to talk about increasing income, but actually doing it may take some work. Here are your options:

Get a Raise

The ideal way to increase your income is to get a raise. It’s ideal because you’ll be making more money for the same amount of work. Of course, getting a raise may be out of your control, but if you take the right approach, you may be able to prove to your employer that you’re worth more than you’re currently being paid.

Get a Higher-Paying Job

This could be a promotion, a higher-paying job in another department at your current employer, or a job with a different employer.

Unfortunately, it seems like in a lot of cases the best way to get a higher-paying job is to find an opportunity with a different employer. This may or may not be something that you are willing to do at this point in time, but you should consider the possible impact of being able to increase your net worth faster.

Work Overtime

If overtime pay is available to you in your current job, this can be another excellent option. Getting paid time and a half can really increase your income significantly and will open up more opportunities to save and invest.

Start a Side Hustle

If you don’t have the option to increase your income through your job, starting a side hustle is another option. The side hustle could be something that you do temporarily just to save up some extra money, it could be something that you plan to do long-term, or it could be a business that you hope to grow to a full-time income.

There are all kinds of possibilities for side hustles, and the resources below can help you to find a good fit for your own situation and get started:

Action Step: Evaluate your current work situation to see if there is a way to increase your income through a raise, promotion, or overtime. If not, consider looking for a higher-paying job with another employer. If that’s not an option, start a side hustle. Take our free side hustle quiz, which will help you to find a side hustle that is ideal for your own schedule and your needs.


If you follow these 7 steps, you are sure to see your net worth improve. If you’re not already using Personal Capital to track your net worth, be sure to sign up for a free account and get started. It makes your net worth calculation and tracking a breeze (get a $20 Amazon gift card when you sign up for Personal Capital through this link).

READ NEXT: 7 Different Paths to Financial Independence

How to Increase Your Net Worth

The post 7 Steps to Grow Your Net Worth appeared first on Vital Dollar.

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How to Land High-Paying Freelance Writing Clients Mon, 29 Jul 2019 12:27:04 +0000 I hear of so many freelance writers who spend the majority of their time on incredibly low-paying gigs (think $25-50 per 1,000 words) for bloggers who are just looking for cheap labor. These writers feel discouraged, frustrated, and somewhat used… and rightfully so. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can land reputable […]

The post How to Land High-Paying Freelance Writing Clients appeared first on Vital Dollar.


How to Land High-Paying Freelance Writing Clients

I hear of so many freelance writers who spend the majority of their time on incredibly low-paying gigs (think $25-50 per 1,000 words) for bloggers who are just looking for cheap labor.

These writers feel discouraged, frustrated, and somewhat used… and rightfully so. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can land reputable clients that pay well, even when you don’t have any prior experience. I know because that’s exactly what I’ve done over the past year.

Nine months ago, I had ZERO paid writing experience. Yet last month I made $6,800 through my freelance writing business alone. And I’m on pace to make more than that this month. That couldn’t be possible without landing some higher-paying clients (think $200-$700 per article).

In this guide, I’ll show you how I’ve been able to land those clients…and with minimal outreach. In fact, I’ve spent probably less than one full hour of time sending pitches in the last nine months.

But here are a few of the things that did help me land high-paying clients fairly quickly.

If you’re interested in a beginner’s guide to freelance writing, please see How to Become a Freelance Writer, which covers everything you need to know to get started.

1. Connecting With the Writing Community

No matter what industry you’re trying to break into, it’s hard to be successful on an island.

“It’s not what you know but who you know,” may sound cliche, but it’s, in many ways, true.

If you want to learn how to land high-paying writing clients, you need to surround yourself with writers who have already done so.

Attend Conferences

One of the first ways I inserted myself into the freelance writing community was by attending a blogger’s conference for people in my niche — personal finance.

When I attended the conference, I hadn’t even landed one freelance writing client yet. But I was determined to learn how to do it. I sat in on a roundtable discussion breakout session that featured five different 6-figure freelance writers.

I listened intently to all the tips that they shared and took detailed notes. After the session, I stayed behind and picked the brains of several of the speakers. I was determined to get my money’s worth from this conference.

Also, at the conference I had the chance to meet over 50 potential clients and give them my business card. It’s so much easier to make a lasting impression when you meet people face-to-face.

No matter what niche you’d like to write in, I can almost guarantee you that there are conferences that focus solely on that space.

Do a quick Google search to come up with a list of conferences that you think could be worthwhile. And set a goal to attend at least one in the next year.

Get on Social Media

To be completely honest, I have very little interest in social media when it comes to my personal life. But I’ve found it to be an incredibly useful tool for my freelance writing business.

Each week, I try to connect with more freelance writers, editors, and bloggers. I’ll share, retweet, and comment on their posts. The goal is to be someone that people in the personal finance space recognize because I’m someone that they’ve “seen around.” And whenever I can, I try to be helpful and answer questions that I know the answer to.

Why do all this? Because to be completely honest, only the lowest-paying clients are willing to hire a random, somewhat anonymous writer who responds to a ProBlogger or Freelancer job posting.

The high-paying clients are going to want to know you’re “legit.” And if they’ve seen you pop up on various social channels in your niche, they may be more inclined to give you a shot.

→ Related reading: How to Make Money on Pinterest

2. Learning How to Make Editors Happy

One of the first things that I did after going to the blogger’s conference last September was to take a freelance writer’s course.

This course gave me tons of tips and tricks for making editors smile. Doing these things consistently will give you an edge over other writers who are competing with you for jobs.

Here are some of the things that make high-paying editors happy.

Only Use Reputable Sources

When you’re writing a factual piece for a client, don’t just blindly repeat facts that you read on some random blog. That will get you fired real quick.

Instead, only use high-quality sources. In my niche, that includes government websites, banks, credit bureaus, and academic studies.

Also, if you quote the results of the study in your article, try to find the actual study itself rather than a news write up about it.

And if you really want to impress editors, add a “comment” in the sidebar of your document for each fact that you mention. In the comment box, include the link to the source. You can see an example below from one of my recent articles for a highest-paying client.


Include Internal Links

Internal links are hyperlinks in your article that lead to another article on the site. These are different than “outbound” links, which lead to other sites.

Internal links are good for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). They help drive more traffic to your editor’s site so you can bet that they love it when you include them.

→ Related reading: 7 Ways to Get Traffic to New Websites and Blogs

As a fun exercise, try to identify internal links that I’ve included in this piece to other Vital Dollar articles. (Hint: look right above this paragraph.)

It’ll usually only take you like 5 extra minutes to find a few articles from your client’s site to link to. But that’s 5 minutes of work that your editor can cut out of their day. And doing little things like will make editors never want to let you go.

Follow the Style Guide

Most of your clients will have some sort of style guide that dictates how they want articles to be formatted and the grammar rules that they adhere to.

Pay attention to the style guide. Here’s why. If write your article in exactly the format that the style guide prescribes, you’re going to save your editor a lot of work.

If you do things right the first time, they don’t have to go behind and fix them later on. Editors often deal with crushing workloads. So coming across a ready-to-publish article can be a huge relief.

Oh, and this should probably go without saying, but make sure to proof and self-edit your articles before submitting. Consider taking advantage of tools like Grammarly or Hemingway to fix grammar errors and improve readability.

Editors from high-paying clients are expecting to fact-check your sources and fix minor issues here and there. But if they’re regularly having to overhaul your entire piece, they’ll find somebody else who will do the job right the first time.

3. Focusing on One Client at a Time

If everything you’re reading above sounds like a lot of work, well…it is.

But I chose to spend time on those things rather than spending hours each day sending out cold pitches to new publications.

For my first 2 months of freelance writing (November-December), I only had one client. And it was one of those clients that I referenced in the introduction. They only paid me $50 per 1,000 words.

But boy did I try to make that client happy. I strived to do everything to absolute perfection. From going the extra mile on the research-end to spending a few extra minutes trying to think of effective headlines.

You Never Know Who’s Seeing Your Work.

And then the funniest thing happened. The person that I would send my invoices for this client to reached out to me on the first of January. She wanted to know if I’d be willing to write for another site.

Let me clear, I had no idea that this person was an editor for another site (come to find out she was a virtual assistant who managed a TON of sites).

But because I was doing a good job for this first client, I got this job opportunity. And, oh yeah, it paid MUCH better than my first client.

Slow and Steady

Around this time, I finally had my first article published with a website that I connected with at the blogger’s conference.

This website is one of the biggest names in the personal finance space and it takes forever for articles to go live. But once that first article published, I was told that I was going to start receiving more articles per month from them.

So now I was up to 3 regular clients, PLUS I now had an “impressive” client that I could tout when I reached out to editors in the future.

For the next 2 months, I just tried to do the best I could with these 3 clients. And then all of a sudden the editor that I had been writing for since January referred me to two new clients that were willing to pay the same rate.

Now, I was up to 5 clients. And they were all sending me regular work. And with the exception of my first client, I was making a minimum of $150 per 1,000 words and a maximum of $450.

By focusing on one client at a time, I was able to consistently add clients without losing any, which is a big deal.

4. Helping Other Writers and Bloggers Out

At this point in my writing journey, I was feeling more confident. I was bringing in $2,000-$3,000 a month. But I still needed two or three more clients, and preferably higher-paying.

Landing Income By Giving Some Away

And I landed one client in the most unlikely of ways.

For my own personal blog, I was writing a student loan refinance company for a lender that was an affiliate. But as I started to write the review, I noticed that other sites were able to offer their readers bigger bonuses for refinancing than I was able to offer.

I didn’t like this and complained about it to the rep that I had been dealing with from this company. I told him that I wanted to be able to offer my readers the same deal.

But he was hesitant since my site wasn’t as large as some of the others. So I did something crazy. I reached out to the owners of two of the biggest sites (and ones that I respected) in the student loan space. I told these guys that I was going to encourage all my readers to refinance through their site and their affiliate links instead of my own.

Crazy, right? Yes, I know it sounds nuts, but I honestly wanted to put the best interests of my readers first.

Well, after I made this move, the refinance company finally changed their mind and let me offer my readers the same deal. And then guess what happened a month later? The owner of one of those sites offered me a freelance writing job (with a good pay rate).

Would this guy have ever seen my work if I hadn’t reached out about sending traffic his way? Probably not.

But doing the right and helping others has a way of repaying you in the end.

→ Related reading: Rent a Friend: How to Make Money by Being a Friend

How I Landed My Highest-Paying Client

So now I was up to 6 writing clients. And my highest-paying client (the one that paid $450 per article) was starting to assign me more articles each and every month. I was now earning $2,500-$4,000 a month from this one client alone.

A few months after I started working for the client, I saw on social media that another freelance writer had just been assigned her first test article with them. There is a LOT of sourcing requirements with this client and she was worried that she was going to mess it up.

So I offered to have a chat with her over the phone about how to make the client happy. We talked for about half an hour. And then at the end she said, “Can I just say, this is a ton of work. I write for XYZ Company and they are so much easier to work for, plus they pay better!”

I said, “Say, what!? They pay better than $450 per article?” She said, “Oh yeah. You need to reach out to them.”

Then she proceeded to give me the name of the editor that I should reach out to. She also told me to mention in the email that I knew her.

I just landed that client this month and they pay $500-700 per article. So by helping someone else I actually ended up helping myself even more.


Do you see how all these points tie together? First, you network with people. Then you do excellent work and help others out.

And that makes your network grow larger. And the larger your network, the more high-paying opportunities that will come your way. It’s an awesome cycle.

So my encouragement to you is to start networking now so that you get your own success cycle started. Good luck!

READ NEXT: 150+ Side Hustle Ideas to Make Money in Your Spare Time

How To Make Money as a Freelance Writer

The post How to Land High-Paying Freelance Writing Clients appeared first on Vital Dollar.

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7 Ways to Save Money When Buying a Cell Phone Thu, 25 Jul 2019 12:07:21 +0000 This post is sponsored by SellCell. All opinions are my own. Smartphones are a big part of everyday life for most of us. It’s hard to even remember what life was like before Apple changed the industry with the release of the first iPhone. Although today’s smartphones are impressive, they can also be quite costly. […]

The post 7 Ways to Save Money When Buying a Cell Phone appeared first on Vital Dollar.


Save Money When Buying a Cell Phone

This post is sponsored by SellCell. All opinions are my own.

Smartphones are a big part of everyday life for most of us. It’s hard to even remember what life was like before Apple changed the industry with the release of the first iPhone.

Although today’s smartphones are impressive, they can also be quite costly. But fortunately, there are some things you can do to save money when you’re buying a cell phone.

This article presents several tips and options that you can use to spend less and keep more money in your pocket.

1. Avoid Buying the Latest Devices

The easiest way to save a huge amount of money on a smartphone is to avoid buying the latest model as soon as it is released. Whenever new models are released, models from the previous generation become available at much lower prices.

While the previous generation of phones will not have all of the same bells and whistles, they are still more than capable of getting the job done, and you can get them at a major discount.

Technology changes so quickly that your brand new smartphone won’t be cutting edge for very long. If you’re constantly upgrading whenever new models are released, you’re certainly paying a premium to have access to the latest technology.

2. Sell Your Old Phone

What do you do with your old phone after you upgrade to a new model? Do you have old phones sitting around and not being used?

Your old phone may still have a lot of value, and if you sell it or trade it in, it can help to offset part of the cost of the new phone.

SellCell is a website that makes it easy to sell your old phone for cash in 4 steps:

  • Find your device
  • Choose the best deal
  • Ship your device
  • Get your cash

Through SellCell you can sell phones made by Apple, Samsung, LG, Google, HTC, Nokia, Sony, ZTE, Blackberry, and many more. (And in addition to phones, you can also sell iPads and other tablets, video game consoles, laptops, cameras, smartwatches, and other devices.)

To sell your phone, simply search for the brand and model and click to see the deals available.


SellCell will show you offers from several different websites and companies, which saves you time and allows you to find the best offer.

When you go through SellCell to sell your phone, you’ll be protected by their best price guarantee. If you find a higher price for your phone within 24 hours of selling, SellCell will pay you double the difference.

Learn more about SellCell here.

3. Don’t Pay for Features That You Don’t Need

It’s easy to get distracted by all of the features of the latest phones, but don’t allow that to sway your decision. To truth is, you probably won’t use most of those features anyway. Consider the features and functionality that you really need (and that you will actually use), and try to find and affordable phone that will meet your needs.

The first two smartphones that I purchased were the latest, greatest Android models. I got caught up in the new features that other phones weren’t offering yet. But after several years of owning those phones, I realized that I really only used the basic features and I was over-paying to get features that I didn’t need.

My last three smartphones have all been older models without all of the fancy features. I’ve saved loads of money each time, and I’ve never missed the features that I don’t have with those phones.

4. Consider Purchasing an Unlocked Phone

An unlocked phone is not restricted to a certain carrier or contract, so you can use it with your choice of carriers (provided it is compatible). If you get your phone through a carrier, it may only work on that carrier’s network, which means you would need to get a new phone if you switch carriers.

Unlocked phones give you greater freedom and flexibility, so you can change carriers if and when you decide to. You can buy unlocked phones that allow you to use them with your choice of carrier, but you should check with the carrier to be sure that the phone is compatible before purchasing.

5. Shop for Phones Online

Where do you go when you decide it’s time for a new phone? If you’re like most people, you head to the Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, or T-Mobile store to see what is available. However you can usually find better deals by doing some comparison shopping online, and there are several different websites that you can use.

Amazon tends to have some of the best prices on smartphones, so that is a great place to start. Walmart, BestBuy, and Jet can also be good places to check.

6. Consider Purchasing a Used or Refurbished Phone

If you are willing to buy a used or refurbished phone, you can save a lot of money. Obviously, used phones will typically be from a previous generation of smartphones, but you can often buy refurbished models of the latest smartphones. Going with a used phone that is from a previous generation will give you the maximum savings.

Gazelle is a good place to check if you are looking for a used phone.

7. Compare Offers from Different Carriers

Each carrier will have different phones and prices that are available. If you are open to using a different carrier and not bound by a contract, shop around and see what offers are available. Of course, promos and sales are common, so you may be able to find a really great deal that will give you the phone you want at a good price. You can check the websites of carriers to quickly see what is available.


When it comes to buying a smartphone, you don’t have to go broke in order to get the functionality that you need. Follow these tips to find a reasonably-priced phone that will meet your needs.

READ NEXT: 10 Ways to Save Money on Your Cell Phone Bill

How to Save Money When Buying a Cell Phone

The post 7 Ways to Save Money When Buying a Cell Phone appeared first on Vital Dollar.

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InboxDollars Review: Is it Legit or a Scam? Wed, 24 Jul 2019 12:57:23 +0000 Whether you’re looking for new ways to make money on the side or just simply wanting to maximize your income, these days there are a lot of available opportunities. InboxDollars is a free membership site that pays you cash back for completing easy tasks online, allowing you to earn some cash in your spare time. […]

The post InboxDollars Review: Is it Legit or a Scam? appeared first on Vital Dollar.


InboxDollars Review

Whether you’re looking for new ways to make money on the side or just simply wanting to maximize your income, these days there are a lot of available opportunities. InboxDollars is a free membership site that pays you cash back for completing easy tasks online, allowing you to earn some cash in your spare time.

Sound too good to be true? Below is a detailed InboxDollars review. We’ll show you how it works (the good and the bad), how you can make money with InboxDollars, and give you a rundown so you can decide if it’s something worth pursuing or not.

Get a $5 bonus if you sign up to InboxDollars through this link.

What Is InboxDollars & How Does It Work?

Cash back membership sites and survey sites are growing in popularity, and InboxDollars is perhaps one of the most well-known of the available options. With InboxDollars, you can create a free account and get paid to complete basic tasks such as browsing the web, watching videos, taking surveys and everything in between.

How does this work? Businesses already pour millions of dollars into advertisements such as TV ads, billboard ads, radio ads, magazine ads, and other related advertising materials to grow their brand and sell their products. Rather than spending those millions of dollars on outdated advertising, businesses can pay companies like InboxDollars a commission every time they refer a customer to their store and every time a customer makes a purchase.

InboxDollars then keeps a portion of the commission they make and passes on the rest of the commission to its members in the form of cash back offers and other related advertising activities. For example, a business that is launching a new product may pay InboxDollars to show the new product launch video to InboxDollars members. InboxDollars then shares that commission with all the members that complete the activity of watching the video. The retail store wins new customers, InboxDollars makes money, and InboxDollars members get easy cash. Everyone wins!

How To Make Money With InboxDollars

Many cash back membership websites are nothing more than a couponing site that notifies you of trending deals available to you when you shop online or shop at a local partnered store. InboxDollars, on the other hand, allows you to make money from shopping online, and by completing other online activities. Below is a list of activities you can get paid to complete with InboxDollars:

Take Surveys & Get Paid For Your Giving Your Opinion

Businesses are willing to pay a lot of money to get direct feedback on a product or service. As a result, InboxDollars shows you available surveys and allows you to get paid for completing the surveys.

When you first set up your free InboxDollars account, one of the first surveys you can take for cash back is a simple profile survey. The survey will ask some simple questions about you so they can cater the activities to your personality. Other surveys are related to internet products and services, household related products and services, and frankly almost anything you can think of!

Most surveys will pay anywhere from $0.10 – $ $1.00+ per survey. For example, one survey that asks 4 easy questions and takes about 30 seconds to complete, pays $0.10.As you can see, you’re not going to earn huge sums of money by taking a single survey, but if you take several of them, it can add up.

→ Related reading: 11 of the Best Websites to Take Paid Online Surveys

Get Paid To Try New Products (Both Free & Paid Products)

This is similar to a free trial of a product or service. Partnered companies to InboxDollars will offer the members free versions of the product or service, or a discounted price of their product or service.

What’s more, is when you participate in the new offer, you also get paid by InboxDollars for purchasing the free or discount priced product or service. If you like to shop for new things on the market and learn about modern products, this can be an exciting way to fulfill your shopping crave and get paid to do so.

Playing Games

Other apps that pay you to play games will generally require you to make in-app purchases in order to receive cash back. With InboxDollars, you get paid based on how long you play the game. You can take short breaks to do random “scratch cards” and win money by selecting which squares to “scratch” and see what you won. If you’re a game enthusiast, this is a great way to both make extra cash, while playing games and discovering new fun games available.

Watching Videos

You can watch short videos on almost any topic. Generally, you have tasks that allow you to complete watching 3 or more short videos and get paid once you complete the task. Video topics range anywhere from cooking topics to makeup and beauty topics and anything in between.

Get a $5 bonus if you sign up to InboxDollars through this link.

How to Maximize Your Income with InboxDollars

While some of the offers available on InboxDollars may not seem like they are worth your time, there are a few ways you can maximize how much you make to get the most use out of your time.

First, start out by filling out your profile survey to tell InboxDollars a little bit about you, that way the offers that will be advertised to you will be catered to your interests, making it more fun while earning extra cash.

In my opinion, playing games and watching videos is not worth the time. You’ll make only very small amounts of money with those tasks.

Some of the surveys offer better pay than others. Check the amount of time needed for the survey and the amount you’ll earn. Take the ones that offer the best pay per hour.

In order to earn decent money with InboxDollars, you will need to complete some of the special offers. For example, you might be able to earn $2 for taking just a couple of minutes to install a mobile app on your phone. Some offers may involve a purchase, or starting a trial that requires your credit card. These offers tend to be more lucrative, but you need to be careful that you’re not spending more money than you’re making.

Another easy way to maximize your income with InboxDollars is by completing the items on the task checklist on your profile page. When you login, you’ll see the latest offers (see screenshot below).

InboxDollars Latest Offers

At the bottom of the page, you can also see the most popular offers. Completing these offers is easily the best way to earn money with InboxDollars.

Latest Deals & Coupons

InboxDollars works with Groupon and will display the latest coupon deals available through Groupon to print and use. Furthermore, you can find recent grocery shopping coupons for different household products and online shopping coupons.

The way you make money through the latest offers and deals is by searching for coupons, printing them out and using them. You will get paid for every coupon that you use on top of the already discounted purchase price of the respective coupon product.

Refer Friends & Family To InboxDollars

InboxDollars uses a referral program that allows all members to get paid for referring new people to the website. You can get paid an extra $5 for every referral, who also gets $5 for joining via your sign up link. If you refer just 5 people, that’s an extra $25 for little to no effort. All you’re doing is spreading the word of great ways to save money, and who doesn’t like to save money?!

How Much Can You Make With Inbox Dollars?

How much you are able to make will really depend on the activities you choose to participate in. The difference maker will be how consistent you are at using the app. Although many tasks may pay just $0.50, keep in mind that you normally only spend a few minutes to complete the task, and your hourly rate will be more telling on how much you’re actually making. If you’re completing a lot of surveys and accepting a high percentage of the offers, you could probably earn $100 or more per month.

As you build up your completed activities, you can see a history of all the activities you completed, when they were completed and how much you earned.

How Does InboxDollars Pay Out?

A lot of cash back and survey websites will pay you in points rather than cash. InboxDollars makes it easy and displays your earnings in dollars rather than a point system.

The easiest way to request payment is by using PayPal. You can link your PayPal account to InboxDollars and request payment once you’ve met the $30 earnings threshold. Other options to request payment are by check or by prepaid debit cards.

One of the major drawbacks of using InboxDollars is the payout process. For example, at Swagbucks you can redeem points for gift cards starting at just $3 as compared to the $30 minimum payout at InboxDollars. Also, InboxDollars charges a $3 processing fee that will be deducted from each payment that you receive. Other sites like Swagbucks, MyPoints, and Survey Junkie do not do this.

Is InboxDollars Worth My Time?

Let’s be honest, you’re not going to get rich using InboxDollars by any means. But if you’re simply looking for a way to make some extra cash online in your spare time, then no doubt there is potential to make some additional money each and every month, or whenever you want to.

In most cases, InboxDollars is a spare time type app that allows you to relax and browse online, while making money doing it. You shouldn’t expect to make this your full-time job by any means, but you can plan on it being a decent “side hustle” for those weekend or evening hours.

Overall, we recommend other sites like Swagbucks and MyPoints over InboxDollars, but if you’re looking to maximize your income from these types of sites it can help to sign up for all of them.

Get a $5 bonus if you sign up to InboxDollars through this link.

InboxDollars Review

The post InboxDollars Review: Is it Legit or a Scam? appeared first on Vital Dollar.

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11 Profitable Side Hustles That Don’t Require A Lot of Time Mon, 22 Jul 2019 12:03:55 +0000 Many people turn to side hustles as a way to make extra money outside of a traditional job. Whether you’re looking to make a little extra spending money, cover a shortage in your budget, or earn enough money that you can stay home with your kids, a good side hustle can be the solution. But […]

The post 11 Profitable Side Hustles That Don’t Require A Lot of Time appeared first on Vital Dollar.


Side Hustles with Limited Time

Many people turn to side hustles as a way to make extra money outside of a traditional job. Whether you’re looking to make a little extra spending money, cover a shortage in your budget, or earn enough money that you can stay home with your kids, a good side hustle can be the solution.

But sometimes the biggest challenge with a side hustle is making everything fit into your schedule. While there are all different types of opportunities available, it can be a challenge to find a side hustle that will be worth the effort if you only have a limited amount of available time in your schedule.

The good news is, there are some extremely flexible side hustles that allow you to make money with just a few hours of work per week. You just need to know which opportunities are the best fit for you, and this article can help with that.

Here you’ll find 11 side hustles that don’t require a lot of time. While you may not replace a full-time income with a side hustle that gets just a small amount of time or effort, you can definitely make some extra money that may be able to help you in any number of different ways.

Be sure to take our free interactive side hustle quiz if you’re struggling to find the right opportunity.

1. Dog Walking

Working as a dog walker is a very flexible way to make extra money. You can take clients and fill the available time around your existing schedule, regardless of whether you are able to work days, evenings, weekdays, or weekends. You could work just for one or two clients if that’s all that you have time for, or find more clients and do more work if you’re able.

You may be surprised at the amount of money you can make as a dog walker. According to Angie’s List, the typical dog walker charges $15-$20 for a 20-minute walk and $20-$30 for a 30-minute walk. At those rates, you can make a decent amount of extra money simply by working as little as a few hours per week.

Earlier this year, I interviewed Lily about her pet sitting and dog walking business (see the article here: How to Become a Pet Sitter). She makes $40,000 per year with a simple pet sitting business, and she also offers dog walking for an additional fee. Lily finds all of her clients through Rover, which is an excellent platform for anyone who has an interest in making money as a dog walker or pet sitter.

Not only is it a flexible money-making opportunity, but you can also get exercise while you’re working.

Get started as a dog walker by creating your free profile on Rover so pet owners can find and hire you.

2. Flipping

One of the most flexible ways to make real money is to buy and resell items, also known as flipping.

In general, you can find under-priced items at yard sales, thrift stores, auctions, flea markets, and estate sales, and then resell the items at a profit. There are a lot of different ways to sell the items, and a growing number of selling apps that can help you, but many flippers have good success by selling on eBay of the Facebook Marketplace.

Part of what makes flipping a great side hustle is that you can do it whenever you’re able. If you have some spare time on a Saturday morning you can go out to some local yard sales and you’ll probably find some items that are ideal for flipping. Selling the items through eBay or Facebook also gives you a lot of flexibility.

Another nice perk of this side hustle is that it can be easily scaled up if you wind up with more time available, and if you want to increase the amount of money that you’re making. Some people are even able to make a full-time income from flipping.

If you want to learn more, see my articles 25+ or the Easiest Things to Flip for Profit and How to Sell on eBay for Beginners.

3. Surveys

While it may not be the most lucrative side hustle, taking paid online surveys is definitely one of the most flexible, which is the main reason it’s so popular. You can sign up for a few different survey websites/apps and start taking surveys almost immediately. Almost anyone can do it, no experience required.

With a survey side hustle, you can make a little extra money whenever you have the time available, regardless of whether it is just a few minutes or a few hours. You can even take surveys while you’re watching TV.

There are a lot of survey sites out there, but some of the top choices include:

You can see a bigger list of the best survey websites here.

4. Donating Plasma

Donating plasma is another easy side hustle that just about anyone can do. It doesn’t require a lot of time (about 60-90 minutes per donation, with the first one taking longer) and you can actually make decent money by doing it. You’ll be able to donate up to twice per week, and if you do that, you could make an easy $300 – $400 per month.

There are plasma centers located in just about every city and even in many smaller towns, so chances are, there is one near you. Getting started is easy – just schedule an appointment or visit a center near you. The amount that you get paid will depend on a few factors, like your weight (which impacts how much plasma you can donate), how frequently you donate, and any promos that may be running.

To learn all of the details about this opportunity, please see my article Get Paid to Donate Plasma.

5. Charging Scooters

If you live in an urban area, you may be able to make some extra money pretty easily by charging electric scooters. Bird and Lime are two companies that have expanded into many cities and they pay people like you and me to charge scooters so they can be rented out.

A few months ago, I interviewed Kevin (How to Make Money Charging Electric Scooters), who is making hundreds of dollars per month with only a small time commitment.

If it fits into your daily life, this can be a great way to make extra money. But there are a few caveats. First, it’s only an option if you live in a city where Bird, Lime, or other similar companies operate (fortunately, that includes most cities at this point). As Kevin mentioned in the interview, it’s an ideal way to make money if the scooters are close to you, but it’s not ideal if you have to go far out of your way. Second, with the increase in popularity of this side hustle, you may need to go on a waiting list before you’re able to start working – it just depends on the current need in your city.

To learn more, read the interview here.

6. Transcription

Working as a transcriptionist is a very flexible way to make money. Most companies that offer transcription work allow you to work whenever you choose, as much or as little as will fit into your schedule. There are some people who do transcription work for a full-time income, but even if you only have a few hours per week you may be able to do pretty well with this side hustle.

Of course, you’ll need some typing skills and you’ll need some basic transcription equipment like a foot pedal and headset. But if you have the typing skills, transcription can be a very flexible way to make money.

When it comes to transcription work, not all opportunities are equal. Some websites that offer work will pay very low rates, but others give you much better pay and opportunities to make real money.

When you’re ready to get started, see our list of the best transcription jobs to know where to start your search. My article How to Become a Transcriptionist also shares the story of Janet, a perfect example of what’s possible in this industry.

7. Renting Your Friendship

One of the most interesting ways to make extra money is to get paid to be someone’s friend. is a website where you can create a profile for free, and other people in your local area, or people who are traveling through the area, can hire you to spend time with them. This might involve things like going to a movie, concert, sports event, party, or something else.

This is a very flexible side hustle because you can schedule activities around your life, and if an opportunity doesn’t fit with your schedule, you don’t have to take it.

It sounds a little strange at first, but there is nothing sexual about it and it’s totally legal. Plenty of people are actually making money this way, and you can read about Jackie’s experience in my article How to Make Money by Being a Friend.

8. Car Advertisements

Everyone is looking for passive income ideas, but to be honest, there aren’t that many ways to make passive income without having money to invest and without putting in a lot of time and effort upfront. One of the few legit ways to make passive income without investing and money and without much effort at all is to sell advertising space on your car.

By going through a company like Carvertise, Wrapify, or Free Car Media you can make up to $400+ per month for a full wrap advertisement. That’s not a bad way to make some extra money!

There are a lot of factors that can influence how much money you’ll make and what opportunities will be available, including where you live, where you work/park, and how much you drive.

If you decide to pursue this opportunity, be sure to work with a legit company like the three mentioned above. There are some scams going around that involve getting people to pay money upfront to have the advertisement placed on your car, with the promise of reimbursement. You should never have to pay out of pocket to get the ads placed on your car.

9. Renting Out Your Stuff

Chances are, you have some things that could be generating money for you by simply renting them out. Here are just a few examples of things that you can rent:

  • A room in your house
  • Your parking space or driveway
  • Storage space
  • Space for pets
  • Your car
  • Your bike
  • Baby stuff

For a more detailed list, see my article 20 Things You Can Rent Out for Extra Money. There are a few things to love about this side hustle. First, it turns things you are not using into income-generating assets. Second, since you’re making money based on the assets, you may not need to invest much of your own time to make the money.

To be honest, renting a room in your home can require a good bit of work if you’re taking short-term rentals from travelers. You’ll need to clean the room between each guest, so it’s not always a great fit if you’re looking for something that won’t require a lot of time. But an alternative would be to rent to a long-term tenant, like a one-year lease for example.

There are many different websites that can help you to find people who want to rent your stuff. At FatLama you can rent just about anything, and of course, Airbnb is the most popular choice for renting a room in your home.

See this article to learn about many more websites that can help you with renting out your stuff.

10. Tradelines

Renting tradelines can be one of the best ways to make real money without much time involvement, but there are some requirements. You’ll need to have good credit and you’ll need to have at least one (preferably a few) credit cards with at least one year of consistent payment history.

Some people who need to quickly improve their credit score are willing to pay to be added as an authorized user on your credit card account, which can help to boost their score. They don’t actually get a credit card and they never have access to your account, but you’ll get paid for helping them to boost their credit score.

It sounds shady at first, but it’s not illegal. However, there is still some ethical gray area because it is likely to violate the terms of your credit card, and it’s possible that the credit card issuer may cancel your account if they know that you are doing this. Some people prefer to stay away from this opportunity for those reasons, but others see it as a great way to earn some extra money.

The amount of money you can make will depend on several factors, like the age of your credit card account and your credit limit, but many people are making hundreds of dollars per month or more (with a few different credit cards).

This is a side hustle that you should not get into without considering the risks of having your credit card account closed, but it can be a great way to make some money without putting in much time or effort.

You can learn a lot more in this forum thread at Mr. Money Mustache.

11. Low-Effort Passive Income Apps

If you’re only looking to make a small amount of extra money, one of the easiest things to do is to take advantage of a few different apps that allow you to make passive income. None of these apps are going to generate a significant income for you, but if you’re using several different apps, it can add up. And the great thing is, using these apps takes almost no effort and anyone can do it.

While there are a lot of different apps that promise passive income or low-effort income, here is a quick look at a few of my favorites.


UpVoice has got to be one of the best and easiest ways to make a little something extra. You can earn $75 per year or more just for visiting sites that you already visit, like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Amazon, Twitter, and LinkedIn. You’ll earn rewards like Amazon gift cards.


MobileXpression is a research company that tracks mobile internet browsing activity (they don’t share your personal data). You can earn $50 per year in gift cards simply by having the app installed and active on your phone. The only thing you need to do is occasionally open the app to claim your rewards.


Rakuten (formerly known as Ebates) is one of the leading cash back websites/apps. They have thousands of partner stores and websites and you can earn cash back from many of the purchases you need to make. On top of that, Ebates will also automatically find coupon codes for you that can save you a lot of money with no extra effort on your part.


Swagbucks is a survey website that was mentioned earlier in this article, but they also offer several other ways to make money aside from just surveys. Swagbucks has a cash back program that is very similar to Rakuten, and they also have thousands of partner websites in their program. Sometimes you can get more cash back with Rakuten and sometimes you can get more from Swagbucks, so if you want to maximize your rewards you should have a free account at both.


Drop is a cashback app that links to your credit or debit cards. When you make a purchase at participating stores and restaurants like Walmart, Target, Walgreens, Dunkin Donuts, and many others, you’ll automatically earn cash back. Drop also has some other ways to make money, like completing special offers. It takes just a few minutes to set up, and then Drop works without requiring any effort from you.


Dosh is another cashback app that links to your credit or debit cards. The stores, restaurants, and websites in Dosh’s program are mostly different from the ones in Drop. Dosh also allows you to earn cash back for booking hotel rooms through the app, and in some cases, that cash back can be pretty significant. Like Drop, Dosh only takes a couple of minutes to set up.


Final Word

Even if you only have a limited amount of time available, there are some side hustle options that will allow you to make some extra money without interfering too much with your life. Take a look at the options covered in this article, see which one seems like a good fit for you, and take action to get started. All of these options also make it possible to start making money quickly, so you should see some results without needing to wait a long time.

READ NEXT: 150+ Side Hustle Ideas for Your Spare Time

Side Hustle Without Much Time

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