Archive for Pant Paula

6 Unusual Ways to Make Money From Home

You can make money from your junk mail.
We’ve all heard the same-old, same-old suggestions for ways to make money from home: become an eBay seller, join online focus groups, start a blog. And while those are all great ideas, what if you’re looking for something a little more … different?

Whether you’re not interesting in the usual suggestions or you’re looking for something additional, here are six cool, lesser-known ways to earn some extra income from home.

1. Rent Out Parts of Your Home

In the past two years, I’ve earned an extra $40,800 by simply renting out the rooms in my home.

One of the easiest ways to make money from home is to — literally — make money from your home. Airbnb isn’t just for renting out your whole house or apartment when you’re on vacation; you can also rent part of your home, whether it’s a guest room or a finished basement. You can also arrange short-term rentals through Roomorama or even Craigslist.

Got room in your garage, basement or an extra crawlspace in your attic? You can also rent out storage space in your home through Store at My House or StoreWithMe. If you’ve got an office you rarely use, you can rent it out through Desktime. You can even rent out your driveway for a fee through JustPark or Park On My Drive.

2. Pet Sit

If you’re a dog lover, you can earn some extra dough by opening up your home to pups whose owners need to take a little time away. Sites like DogVacay and Rover allow you to list various services, from daycare to overnight sitting to walking and grooming, to turn your passion for pets into a nice little side business. Both sites provide insurance coverage for the animals in your care should an emergency arise while they’re with you.

You set your hours of availability, then get paid to play, pet and cuddle adorable pooches in your spare time. How sweet is that?

3. Rent Out Your Car

Have a car you rarely use? Don’t let it just sit there; put it to work for you by renting it out on sites like RelayRides and Getaround. Tell people when you won’t be needing your car and you can get some extra cash for that vehicle that would otherwise just be taking up space.

If you’re worried about someone damaging your car, these companies have you covered. Renters are required to purchase insurance policies and also to have your car cleaned and detailed if they get it dirty while using it.

4. Sell Your Junk Mail and Inserts

Most of just throw away those unsolicited offers that arrive in the mail, as well as the inserts in the Sunday paper. But there are companies and individuals who will actually pay you for these things.

Market research company SBK Center provides you with …read more

Read more here: 6 Unusual Ways to Make Money From Home

Category: airbnb, earn money, Fast Money, instagram, make money, make money fast, make money from home, make money online, quick cash


6 Crucial, Overlooked Factors in Renting or Buying a Home


Are you overlooking crucial factors in your search for a home? Both renters and homebuyers consider factors like the bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage and rent or mortgage payment. But these aren’t the only qualities that will determine whether a home is the right fit.

These six often-ignored factors can make a massive difference in how happy you’ll feel with a property.

1. Sunlight

Sunlight has been scientifically proven to affect your mood, productivity and energy levels. If every room in a house has high, narrow windows (or few windows at all), you could find yourself living in a pretty gloomy atmosphere.

In addition, if your windows are north-facing, you’ll get less sunlight than those with south-facing window exposures (assuming you live in the northern hemisphere).

You can supplement lack of natural light to some extent with lamps and overhead lighting, but it’s not the same. There’s no substitute for natural light.

2. East- and West-Facing Rooms

Speaking of natural light, you also want to bear in mind which direction your home is facing, as this will affect the amount of sunlight certain rooms get throughout the day.

If the kitchen is on western side of the house, for instance, your kitchen will heat from the afternoon sun, meaning the kitchen will be hottest right before you return home from work. That’s unpleasant, especially since the heat from the oven and stove will also cause kitchen temperatures to rise. In the summer, this one-two punch of heat might tempt you to dine out more, which can affect both your health and your finances.

Likewise, bedrooms that have eastern-facing exposures may get direct sunlight early in the morning – which can be either a positive or negative feature, depending on whether you’re a morning bird or a night owl.

3. Walkability to Local Amenities

The more you can walk to local attractions like stores, restaurants and schools, the less dependent you’ll be on owning a vehicle. This can mean lower gas bills (and other auto savings) for you, as well as an overall healthier lifestyle. It can also make you feel more connected to your community.

4. Commute Time

Is buying your “dream home” worth spending an hour fighting traffic to reach work everyday? We spend enough of our lives at work as it is; cutting into your personal time even further with a hefty commute can make you miserable, even …read more

Read more here: 6 Crucial, Overlooked Factors in Renting or Buying a Home

Category: buying a house, commute, first house, home buying, homebuying tips, layout, natural light, neighborhood, renting a home, walkability

2 Weird Yet Worthy Strategies for Managing Your Money

There’s no “perfect” way to manage your money. Stop looking for the silver bullet or the magic formula — it doesn’t exist.

In fact, money can be counterintuitive. The best budget might be not having one at all. Seriously. This is called the “anti-budget,” and we explain it in detail below.

Let’s chat about weird strategies for managing your money. You might discover an oddball tactic that works well for you.

The Anti-Budget

Budgeting can be cumbersome. Tracking, itemizing and classifying how you spend every last penny can feel tedious.

It’s no surprise that budgeting — like dieting — has low long-term adherence. People get excited about it for a week or two, and then they become busy. They’re distracted by something else. They forget.

Why not just cut the charade and embrace the budget that you’ll stick to: the anti-budget? This tactic involves skimming your savings off the top first and going wild with the rest. Spend without regard to how much you’ve shelled out on concert tickets or restaurants. There are only three rules:


  • Your savings — including debt payoff, retirement, investments and cash savings — get pulled from the top first. No exceptions.
  • Your bills — including your mortgage or rent, utilities, insurance premiums, and other fixed costs — get paid second.
  • You never live beyond your means. If this requires you to use debit instead of credit, so be it.


That’s it. No tracking. You don’t need to worry that your clothing budget is $35 but this month you spent $43. You don’t need to line-itemize every tube of toothpaste and can of dog food. Just pull your savings from the top, pay your bills and spend the rest guilt-free.

How much should you save? I recommend 20 percent as a bare minimum, which should include 12 percent to 15 percent into retirement accounts and the rest as cash savings for building an emergency fund, saving for your children’s education, saving for big-ticket purchases and preparing for vacations and holidays.

If this seems like a lot, try boosting your savings rate 1 percent at a time. If you earn $4,000 per month, an extra 1 percent is $40. Trim this from your budget, adjust to the new lifestyle, and repeat.

If you’re carrying debt, save more than 20 percent of your income and use this excess to accelerate your debt repayments. For the purposes of this budget, the minimum payments on your debt count as “bills,” while payments in excess of the minimum count as “savings.”

The Live-on-One-Income Budget

Here’s another unusual strategy: If you’re part of a dual-income couple, live on one income and save the other. I hear you protesting already: “That’s impossible! We need both incomes!”

I’d invite you to challenge that assumption. You may need both incomes to maintain your current lifestyle, but what would happen if you downsized into a smaller home? Dined out less often? Stopped getting expensive haircuts? Traded …read more

Read more here: 2 Weird Yet Worthy Strategies for Managing Your Money

Category: anti-budget, budget, budgeting, budgeting tips, family money, priorities, Savings, two incomes

7 Ways to Save on Your Family Vacation

Many families are now thinking about their summer vacation. We can’t blame you; after the frigid temps and record snowfall many of you have experienced, nothing sounds better than a week at the beach!

If you’re among these vacation planners, you may not be looking forward to figuring out how to pay for your family trip this summer. These seven tips will help you get more for less.

1. Start Saving Now

Begin putting money aside for your vacation immediately. It will be a lot easier to save a small amount each week than to come up with the lump sum as your vacation dates get near.

Pick up a side job in the evenings or on weekends — such as tutoring, teaching, freelancing, consulting, physical tasks like home repair and lawn care — or social tasks like babysitting. Simply working an extra two or three hours per week – say, from 6 to 9 p.m. every Tuesday — can add hundreds of extra dollars to your monthly budget.

Simultaneously, consider temporarily cutting back in other areas like dining out or going to the movies. A combination of earning more and spending less will help you avoid the temptation to put anything you can’t afford on credit cards, which will only add to your vacation stress rather than alleviate it. Set a budget you’re comfortable with from the outset and resolve to stick to it.

2. Save on Food

Pack your own snacks for the car, train or plane to avoid having to spend a premium at rest stops or airports. Look for “kids eat free” promotions at the restaurants in the area where you’ll be staying to cut back on the cost of dining out.

Also be sure to check out daily deal sites like Amazon Local for the city you’re traveling to. You can find some great deals this way on not only food, but also activities like mini golf, movies and more.

3. Consider Alternate Accommodations

Renting an apartment or home through a short-term rental website like Airbnb can often be cheaper than renting a suite or series of hotel rooms for your family at a big-name chain hotel. Plus, it comes with the added perk of a full kitchen, so you can save some cash by making a few meals yourself. If you’re traveling for one week or more, you could also offset part of the cost of your trip by renting out your home on Airbnb, as well. The income you receive from this might just pay for your entire vacation.

4. Save on Transportation

Use travel comparison sites to find the airlines and travel times that are the most affordable. Be flexible on your travel dates — looking at non-peak days and times — and be willing to consider a brief layover, as direct flights are often more expensive. Flying into an alternate airport is another way to save …read more

Read more here: 7 Ways to Save on Your Family Vacation

Category: airbnb, free, how to save money, powerofplanning, saving money, side hustle, staycation, summer vacation, train, vacation, vacation planning

6 Simple, Healthy Ways to Lower Your Food Bill

Hummus is inexpensive when you make it yourself.

After housing and transportation, food is typically the third-largest expense for many American families. A recent Gallup poll shows that Americans spend an average of $151 a week on food ($7,852 a year).

One of one of the fastest and easiest ways to reduce your food bill is by removing one of the most expensive ingredients from your meals: meat.

Meat (particularly red meat) is a pricey addition to your meals. You don’t have to turn into a full-blown vegetarian. Adopting a more vegetarian diet, sometimes known as flexitarian or semi-vegetarian, can still yield substantial savings and potentially improve your health.

The numbers make sense. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the nationwide average price for ground beef is $4.23 a pound. USDA sirloin steak costs $8.19 a pound. Boneless ham costs $4.42 a pound, and chicken breast is $3.51 a pound. In contrast, dried beans cost only $1.48 a pound, and large eggs are $2.08 a dozen.

Here are six ideas and tips for creating vegetarian-based meals and snacks that cost $1 to $2 a meal. Plus, these recipes are easy-to-make, even on a busy schedule, which means that creating healthy and cheap meals could become your next great habit.

1. Incorporate More Beans

One pound of dried black beans costs around $1.50 at the grocery store, and that’s enough to make one week’s worth of meals for one person. Cook beans in bulk over a weekend and eat it throughout the rest of the week. You won’t have to spend much time cooking, and your total meal costs will come to as little as $1 to $2 a meal.​

You can use black beans to make tacos, burritos, quesadillas or veggie and black bean bowls. You can also garnish with cheese and salsa as you’d like. If you’re not a fan of black beans, substitute pinto beans or combine the two for added flavor combinations.

2. Make Your Own Hummus

One pound of dried chickpeas also costs about $1.50. Soak these overnight, cook them, and then combine with salt, lemon juice, garlic and tahini. You can use a blender or a food processor to make your own hummus. It’s surprisingly simple to make.

Rather than pay $5 at the grocery store for a tiny container of hummus, you can produce nearly half a gallon of hummus for only $2 to $3. As with the beans, you can add additional flavoring. I like to add hot peppers into mine.

You can even use this as a dip to eat raw vegetables or crackers. If you’re busy at work, hummus and veggies or pita chips also make for a great snack to munch on while you’re sitting at your desk. Once again, your total cost per meal can be as little as $1 to $2.

3. Substitute Eggs in Place of Meats

Making a stir-fry? Rather than pay top dollar for beef …read more

Read more here: 6 Simple, Healthy Ways to Lower Your Food Bill

Category: beans, bulk buying, food, groceries, grocery shopping, how to save money, lentils, powerofplanning, rice, saving money, vegetable, vegetarian

8 Fun, Inexpensive Group Activities for You and Your Friends

Hanging out with your friends can get expensive – movies, bars, dinners — and frugal alternatives can feel boring and predictable after a while. (One too many board game nights, anyone?)

Here are eight fun alternatives to both extremes — group activities you can enjoy with your friends that won’t break the bank or won’t feel like those other frugal hacks you’ve done a million times before.

With these entertaining ideas stored in your money-saving arsenal, you’ll be on your way to breaking the (false) mental association between spending money and enjoying life.

Paula Pant is an entrepreneur and real estate investor who has traveled to 32 countries. Her blog Afford Anything is not the same tired, stodgy, uninspired financial advice that you’ll find on other websites. Afford Anything shows you how to crush limits, create wealth and maximize life.

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Category: Activities, entertainment, free, friends, fun, fun for adults, game night, girls night out, group, how to save money, Ideas, night out, party games, party themes, saving money, teams

4 Money Lessons You Can Learn from ‘Shark Tank’

Entrepreneurs and inventors aren’t the only ones who can learn a thing or two from “Shark Tank.” This popular TV show is also a source of great lessons that could help you get a better handle on managing your money.

1. Know Your Priorities

The sharks: The sharks have different ways of determining what constitutes a good investment, and it doesn’t always come down to the dollars and cents. Sometimes they invest in the entrepreneur as much as his company, wanting to pay it forward and help make an American dream come true. Sometimes they relate to a product personally because it solves a problem they’re familiar with or serves a niche they’re involved in. And many times (or all the time, if you’re Kevin O’Leary), the decision is simply and strictly about the money.

You: Know where your priorities stand. Determine what you want your money to be able to do for you — allow you to travel, build yourself future security, free you from a job you hate — and work toward those goals regardless of what anyone else around you is doing.

2. Don’t Let Your Emotions Get in the Way

The sharks: More than a few entrepreneurs have broken down in the tank when they realize no one is interested in what they’re selling. The sharks try to explain to them why their business model isn’t working, why their product won’t sell or why they won’t get enough return on their investment — but all the entrepreneur can do is sob about the fact that their product is “their baby” and they’ve spent long, hard hours pouring themselves into it. As a result, they don’t retain any of the valuable advice the sharks have given them.

You: Money and emotions don’t mix well. Make sure your financial decisions, both large and small, are based on logic, reason and an impartial analysis. Seek one advice from a third party like a certified public accountant or financial adviser. Don’t let your feelings impair your better judgment.

4. Be Realistic

The sharks: Some entrepreneurs value their companies at millions of dollars when they don’t have a single sale yet to prove their worth. Others believe their product will be the next super-trend when in reality the market for it is so small it’s barely worth producing.

​You: Whether you’re putting together a monthly budget or determining how much house you can afford to buy, make sure you’re being realistic about your own capabilities. Can you really live on $50 of groceries a month, or are you mistaking an impossible goal for a realistic challenge? Even if you can qualify for a $250,000 mortgage, will that leave you enough money to live on or will you wind up house-poor? It’s OK to want to aim high, but make sure any goals you have are also firmly grounded in reality.

4. Don’t Let Difficulties Stop You

The sharks: Some …read more

Read more here: 4 Money Lessons You Can Learn from ‘Shark Tank’

Category: advice, Barbara Corcoran, budget, consumers, Daymond John, entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, kevin oleary, Lori Greiner, mark cuban, personal finance, priorities, robert herjavec, shark tank

5 Ways to Tell Your Financial Strategy Needs an Adjustment

How in control are you when it comes to your money? Are you making your money work for you, or is it a constant source of stress and worry you wish you never had to deal with?

Knowing something’s off is half the battle. Here are five clear signs that you’re not managing your money as well as you could be, and the steps you can take to start making things right.

1. You Panic Every Time an Unexpected Expense Crops Up

Your car starts making horrible noises. Your roof starts to leak. You get sick and need a pricey medical procedure. These things would stress anyone out, but if they send you into a tailspin of “How am I ever going to pay for this?,” it’s a sign your finances aren’t as healthy as they should be.

You should have a minimum of three to six months’ income saved up in an emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses like these. If you don’t, start finding ways to trim your budget or bring in some extra money (maybe by working a temporary second job) in order to get this fund to where it needs to be.

2. You Never Have Enough Left at the End of the Month

You start off each month with the best of intentions, but no matter how hard you try, you never seem to have enough money to get you through to the end of the month-or, what would be even better, to put aside extra money for savings or other goals.

You need to create a realistic working budget and dedicate yourself to sticking to it. The only way to make your money stretch as far as possible is to know exactly how much is coming in and going out each month. Sit down and start tracking how much you pay for things like groceries, rent/mortgage, utilities and medical bills. If your costs exceed your monthly income, find ways to cut back in certain areas.

Then, when the time comes to make a spur-of-the-moment decision — like whether you should go see that movie this weekend or stay home and watch a DVR’d show — you’ll have a measurable way to tell if you can afford it or not.

Another alternative is the anti-budget. This strategy involves pulling your savings from the top first, and then spending the rest. Initially, “the rest” goes towards bills, such as your mortgage or rent, utilities, money set aside for groceries, and so forth. At the end of the week or month, if there’s still anything leftover, you can treat yourself to a restaurant meal, movie, new shoes or any other discretionary purchase.

3. Your Credit Card Balances Never Go Down

You’re regularly making the minimum payments on your credit card accounts, and sometimes you even make more than the minimum. But you never seem to make any progress. It feels like you have this cloud of debt …read more

Read more here: 5 Ways to Tell Your Financial Strategy Needs an Adjustment

Category: bills, budgeting, credit card debt, monthly budget, retirement planning

How to Retire a Millionaire on a $40,000 Salary

Many people think that becoming a millionaire is a result of a major event, like selling a company in Silicon Valley. In reality, you can make $1 million without any special skills, knowledge or luck, just by following basic investment advice.

That’s right — the Average Joe can become a millionaire. You can even do it on a salary of $40,000 per year.

You don’t need to start and sell a major company. You don’t need to pick amazing stocks. All you need to do is follow tried and true advice, and you can make $1 million by doing nothing more than investing in basic broad market index funds, such as the S&P 500 (^GSPC). Here’s how it works.

How to Invest Like a Millionaire

Let’s say at age 25, you begin earning $40,000 annually. This provides you with an income of $3,333 per month before taxes. Set aside $600 per month (18 percent of your gross income). Invest that $600 in a tax-advantaged retirement account, such as a 401(k) or an IRA. From there, select a passively managed index fund that tracks the Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI). It’s that simple.

You don’t have to do anything fancy like day trading or stock picking. You don’t have to flip houses or chase the latest fad. You just track the overall stock market through a low-fee index fund that tracks the Dow Jones. This gives you access to the 30 of the biggest publicly traded companies in the U.S.

Let’s assume your money will grow at 7 percent annually. That’s a conservative estimate, but it’s one Warren Buffett agrees with. Stocks have historically grown at a rate of about 8 percent to 9 percnt annually. However, the precise number varies depending on which range of years you’re looking at, so we’ll assume a 7 percent annualized average as a conservative estimate.

The Power of Compound Growth

Continue to contribute $600 per month into this fund every year. Don’t withdraw it; let it remain in the market. It will reinvest its own dividends and capital gains. You’ll reap the benefits of compound growth. After 34 years, this will grow into $1 million.

In other words, if you begin investing at age 25, you’ll be a millionaire by age 60. Pause and think about that for a second. You can earn $40,000 per year, save 18 percent of your gross income, and retire a millionaire. Just $600 per month, invested conservatively over 34 years, with an annual growth of 7 percent, is powerful enough to change your life.

That’s fairly remarkable given the average American has only $58,000 in a retirement account.

We’re not talking about mega returns. We’re not talking about saving 50 percent to 60 percent of your income. We’re not talking about doing anything extreme.

Imagine that you bumped your savings rate by another 2 percent. Now you’re saving …read more

Read more here: How to Retire a Millionaire on a $40,000 Salary

Category: 401k, compound growth, Dow Jones Industrial Average, early retirement, index funds, Investing, ira, million, millionaire, passive investing, retirement, savings rate

6 Things You Should Rent Instead of Buy

We tend to believe that renting consumer goods is like pouring money down the drain — and in many cases, it can be. But the idea that renting is always a bad idea is an oversimplification.

Renting furniture, for instance, often costs several times the original price of the piece in the long-run. You’re better off getting a cheap sofa from the local Goodwill while you save enough to purchase a couch you love.

Renting your home, by contrast, might be a better deal, depending on the rent-vs.-buy costs in your specific region and city. In expensive areas, such as Manhattan and San Francisco, renting a home can sometimes be a better idea than buying, especially after home maintenance costs, insurance, interest and property taxes are taken into account.

There are plenty of other items you may want to rent rather than buy, as well. Here are six of them.

Paula Pant is an entrepreneur and real estate investor who has traveled to 32 countries. Her blog Afford Anything is not the same tired, stodgy, uninspired financial advice that you’ll find on other websites. Afford Anything shows you how to crush limits, create wealth and maximize life.

Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments

…read more

Read more here: 6 Things You Should Rent Instead of Buy

Category: buy versus rent, buy vs rent, exercise equipment, own vs rent, power tools, rent versus buy, Rent vs buy, rent vs. own, rentals, save money, saving money, textbooks

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