One of the best things that happened to me on my trip was that I got really inspired to pay off debt.

Being able to really be alone and sit with my thoughts made me realize a lot. More than anything, I really want to be out of debt.

I started thinking of how I could be out of debt as soon as possible and not the 2-3 years I’ve been thinking of. After looking at my income and doing some soul-searching, I set a crazy goal of getting out of debt in one year.

My mind is still grappling with this goal as it seems so crazy and out of reach. My debt is currently at  $28,737.59 (I just recently put $2,200 to debt).

In order to accomplish this goal, I need to make 4k or more each month. I want to pay at least 2k to debt each month, live off of roughly 1k (see my low expenses here) and put 1k to insurance and taxes. If I make more, I will put more to debt and savings — and perhaps even investments. I’m getting the urge to dip my toes in the water and get started.

After a year of making 2k+ payments, I want to throw some of my remaining savings at debt and be done.

Once I did the math, I felt so motivated. Because my income was stalling for months, my debt free date was constantly 2-3 years away. But in March, I made some drastic cuts, and started focusing relentlessly on higher paying work. And I’m so freaking glad I did. Because for the past two months, I’ve made more than I have in my whole life.

If I can keep up at this pace, I’ll be looking at a $48,000 or more salary. That may be a modest salary to some, but considering my salaries have all been low to mid thirties, this is a huge jump. A palpable jump. I can see the difference in my bank account and it’s the only way I’m able to afford to put 2k to debt each month. It just reminds me that as much as I like being frugal and saving, sometimes it really is about earning more.

So how in the heck do I plan to make this happen?

Well, the move is off. I realized I cannot accomplish this goal if I moved to LA or NYC. At this point, both of the cities have lost their charm after my enchanting affair with European cities anyway. I’d love to move to Europe some day. But that’s a story for another day. The point is, I’m staying put in Portland for at least another year, or more to get my financial life in order.

Secondly, I’m going to continue to work my butt off (while continuing to prioritize self-care and rest) so that I can keep my clients happy and also secure more work when I need it.

Also, starting June 1 I am mostly giving up credit cards and opting for cash. I say mostly because I will still have my insurance and other auto pay things on my card. But I don’t want to be tempted at all to spend more, so I am sticking to cash for everything else.

I am also giving myself a strict $100 budget each month for fun. I plan on significantly reducing my restaurant and happy hour expenditures.

These are the strategies I am going to use to try to knock this debt out in a year. A year seems manageable. A year seems like if I work really hard and stay focused, I can be done with this forever.

I can start saving and investing 2k each month. I can travel for longer periods. I can rid myself of 99.9% of spending guilt.

Before I was burnt out and just surviving. Now I’ve had time to rest and really evaluate my priorities. I know money is a tool to help you get what you want out of life. I want freedom and travel and adventure. I know I can have all of those things, while still setting myself up for a nice future, if I get out of debt asap.

It feels weird and scary to share this goal. Especially because my income depends on me. I don’t have a cushy job where I can sit back and make $50k. I have to work, hustle, pitch, edit, revise, and manage my work to make a buck. And I’m so grateful for that. But I know that things can change with clients — budgets change, directions change, etc. So much feels out of my hands, but I will do my best to continue to work hard and if things fall through, make something else work.

Self-employment is for the resilient.

So, there you have it. My big, crazy, audacious goal. I am nervous, but I’m ready for a challenge.

I will be debt free by May 21, 2016. Let the countdown begin.

This post is in: debt

Having lots of bills and loans to pay can be tough. We all want to be debt-free and reach the stage where we can finally declare we are financially free! Impossible? No, it’s not. There are plenty of people who have done it and I can’t wait until I’m one of them :)

Until then, here are 10 super simple ways to stay on top of your debt and be financially free.

1. Planning ahead: It’s the most crucial part of securing your future financially. Keeping this in mind, you will have more control over your money and expenses whether it’s for buying a home, starting a family or preparing for your retirement.

2. Creating a budget: It will help you be in control of your expenses in order for you to be able to reduce your spending. Furthermore, having a budget gives you ample room to enjoy the things you love such as taking your family for a holiday.

3. Planning for variable and fixed expenses: Considering these two things will help you keep your finances in check. Variable expenses include groceries, clothes and other activities. Fixed expenses are things like utilities and rent. This one step will help you avoid any unwanted surprises!

4. Saving money regularly: Saving money regularly will help you be happy with yourself. This should always be automatic and should be done every month. Never wait for the month to end in order to save because you will have nothing to save due to expenses. Pay yourself first!

5. Paying off credit cards and loans: It makes sense to pay off your credit cards and loans that have a high interest rate first. If you have too many loans to handle, and have trouble keeping up with payments, look around for companies that can offer secured loans for debt consolidation. This way, you don’t have to worry about making multiple payments each month.

6. Reviewing of your bank statements: Take some time and go through your bank statements. You should be able to understand if there are any discrepancies on your incoming or outgoing cash flow. Combine both the digital and the traditional bank statements and review them monthly to check for any errors!

7. Keeping both the terms and conditions of the financial products and records of your bank statement: Make sure your bank statement records go back at least twelve months and have a copy of the terms and conditions. The physical bank statements can be used to apply for loans, credit card or even a mortgage.

8. Shopping around: Take time and find out whether your provider is still giving you the best deal. Feel free to look around, negotiate and always look for the best rate!

9. Checking out the benefits of help and free resources: When you go online, there are a lot of free apps that can help you manage your money. I personally use Mint.com to help me track my expenses and budget.

10. Addressing the Issue: Why did you get into debt in the first place? In order to stay out of debt, you want to address the reason you got into debt and make sure you are setting yourself up for success in the future.

What else would you add to the list?

This post is in: Other

Hey everyone! I’m back from my crazy two-week vacation. My goodness it was glorious. A few days before my vacation, I was driving myself crazy with all the work I had to do that it hardly seemed worth it. I wanted to throw my computer in the trash and just go run and hide.

Luckily I survived 😉 And it paid off. For two weeks, I spent time in Madrid, Nerja, Malaga, Gibraltar and Lisbon. I got to see my friend who is teaching in Spain and it was so great to relax on the beach with her and just enjoy life.

I feel like a completely new person from this vacation. The trip really illuminated some things for me about what I want in my life and what I don’t — and how I want to go forward.

I have some juicy posts coming up about my big plans and also the nitty-gritty on how much I spent (hint: I spent less money than the value of my round trip flight).

But today I want to bask in the glory of travel and remember why exactly I love it so much — and why I encourage you to go deeper and seek other skies than the ones you call home.

Traveling abroad can be a wonderful and disorienting experience. It disrupts your routine and immerses you in a way of life completely different from your own. In my case, I felt more at home in Spain than I do in Portland. I loved eating dinner at 9pm and going out at midnight. I enjoyed long walks and espresso and a slower pace. I was reminded that the point of living is not to just work. There is so much more to life and so much of the world to discover.

During this trip I had several “good” cries. I simply felt overwhelmed with happiness, the beauty of art, the strange yet comforting feeling of being somewhere new, yet feeling totally at home. It’s been a minute since I’ve had a “good” cry. I’m used to the depressed cry, the stressed cry, or the-whole-world-is-caving-in-on-me cry — those are shadows of myself that sit on the sidelines, waiting for an opportune moment, but I try to keep them at bay.

But the good cry felt so good. I probably looked like an insane person walking down the streets of Lisbon, crying from a  beautiful church, and just giggling at myself at how ridiculous I looked.

I felt happy. I felt like I was taking care of myself. For the first time this year, I wasn’t glued to the computer for 60+ hours a week. I got actual sunlight instead of the deceptive glare of my computer.

It was so refreshing. This trip has really got me thinking. Ya’ll know I’m all about the hustle. Hustling is my MO and just part of my DNA. But I’m starting to realize we glorify hard work to a gross degree. We act like it’s okay to work until you pass out, live on your computer and phone, and always “be on”.

I don’t think it’s right. We need to take time to practice self-care and not get caught up in the productivity propaganda. In the States I feel like I’m always fed this constant jargon of be productive, wake up early, blah blah blah. You know what? People in other countries don’t necessarily live like this and I think they enjoy life a lot more (personal observation).

I’m ready to lay down my badge of workaholism and really try to focus on me — meditate, exercise, read, rest, and have time to do “nothing”. I am so uncomfortable with doing nothing, which is exactly why I need to practice sitting still with myself and rejuvenating.

Another great thing about this trip was that it was completely confidence boosting. Although I did go see a friend in Spain for a few days, the majority of my trip I was alone. No boyfriend, no family, no other friends. There was just something about traveling by myself, navigating a new country, speaking and stumbling in another language, that made me feel confident. If I can travel the world by myself and turn out just fine, why can’t I do other things?

That’s not to say that traveling alone was easy. I can’t tell you how many times I got lost, there was a miscommunication, or an awkward encounter. But as I found myself wandering the streets, with no real direction, not knowing where I was or where I was going, I felt strength in feeling lost — I knew I’d find my way again. You always do. It felt like the perfect allegory for life and my business.

Sometimes I wonder “Where the hell am I going with this? What am I doing?” but I have to remember that I always find my way.

So, I’m back and ready to work. But also to take care of me, too. I urge you to take care of yourself as well. Work will be there. I promise you when you are on your death-bed, you won’t be thinking, “I wish I would have worked more!”

Tell me. What will you do for yourself this week? When is your next vacation?

p.s. check out some of my photos from the trip on Instagram.

This post is in: Uncategorized

When you first realize that you are in need of financial help and that something needs to change, it can be easy to wonder, “Where do I start?”

I remember when I first realized how much debt I was in, I felt so consumed by the number that I felt paralyzed. I wasn’t sure how to move forward or where to begin. Luckily, I have a firm grasp of my finances now and have taken steps to keep my financial life in order.

But if you’re feeling lost and want to get your financial life in order, here are six simple steps to get started.

Track Your Spending

The first step is so important! Track your spending for at least three months. Every. Single. Purchase. I know it sounds tedious, but tracking your spending offers huge insights into where your money is actually going. It’s easy to think we know where our money is going. But the truth comes out when you track your spending.

You can do this the old-school way via receipts, pen and paper, or use an online tool such as Mint.com to track everything. I personally use Mint.com and I love it! This is an integral part of the process so you can see where your money leaks are. You may be shocked or surprised how much you spend on food or clothes, etc. It can be a painful truth to deal with but it’s really eye-opening and can help you make changes going forward.

Calculate Your Net Worth

The next step in the process is to calculate your net worth. Your net worth is your assets minus your liabilities. Assets are anything that has a monetary value such as your cash, savings, investments, house, etc. Your liabilities are your debts such as student loans, mortgage, car loan, etc.

This is so important as you can see exactly how much money you have saved up and also get a bird’s-eye view of your debt situation. I know for a long time I was in denial about how much debt I was in. I wasn’t quite sure how much I actually owed. So sitting down and calculating everything was so eye-opening for me and gave me the boost I needed to change my situation.

One important note! Don’t let your net worth serve as your self-worth. It can be easy to feel like crap after doing this step if you have a lot of debt like me. Don’t let doing this exercise turn into a moment of self-hatred. Remember, your net worth is not your self-worth. You are awesome as you are, just try to get your finances in order, so you have a positive, strong net worth.

Check Your Credit Score

Your credit score is one of the most influential numbers in your financial life. It determines so much of your adult life. Your credit score determines if you get approved for that new apartment or rewards credit card and so much more.

To get your free credit score, you can use Mint.com, Credit Sesame or Credit Karma. Once a year, you should also check your credit report, which is a full outline of your credit history, at AnnualCreditReport.com.

You’ll want to ensure there are no errors and also check in annually to see your improvements. Doing this can also help you identify potential identity theft and other issues. So, stay on top of monitoring your credit score and credit report!

Invest in Your Future

Yeah, we all understand the concept of YOLO, but I assume you don’t want to eat cat food when you are old right? Yeah, neither do I. Start investing in your future, by contributing  to your 401K. This is especially necessary if you get an employer match. Hello, free money! You can invest in your employer’s 401K, a Traditional IRA or a Roth IRA. Each one has its own benefits and advantages. The point is to get started.

You can also use something super simple like Betterment.com to get started with investing.

Protect Your Belongings and Your Family

This step is so crucial to protecting your finances. It’s key to get the insurance you need to protect your belongings, your health, and your family.

Make sure you have health insurance, renter’s insurance or homeowner’s insurance, and life insurance.

Health insurance can help you when sickness strikes. I went nearly two years without health insurance and had to pay a hefty bill when I ended up sick. Renter’s insurance or homeowner’s insurance can protect your belongings in case of theft or other natural disasters. Just make sure to read the terms and conditions so you are super clear on what your plan covers — each plan is different.

Life insurance is also important if you have a family. If something were to happen to you, you want to make sure your family is taken care of financially and not stuck in a bind. To get the best price, compare life insurance quotes.

Being properly insured can save you lots of money down the line — it’s easy to think that you don’t need these things when things are going well — but once something happens, you’ll be grateful you invested in these protective measures!

Spend on Your Values

Money is a tool that can be used for things that bring value to your life. Forget the Joneses and do you! Save money where you can, spend money where it matters and invest in your future. Don’t get caught up with mindless crap, but spend money on things that bring value to your life. What do I mean?

Things that make your life easier or better. Or on once in a lifetime experiences. Money can help you live a comfortable, enjoyable life, but you need to use it on what serves you.

Use these six steps to get your financial life in order. Experiment and cover your bases. Compare prices. The key is to be conscious of your finances and not just get into a mindless rut (been there, done that).

You got this.

This post is in: money, personal finance

May 4, 2015

Hi everyone! While I’m exploring new terrain in Spain and Portugal and getting some much needed rest, enjoy this fantastic dear debt letter by Erin! Erin is a pop culture enthusiast hailing from West Virginia. She works in media, has a fond appreciation for lima beans and maintains a healthy dose of curiosity and wanderlust. Check out her blog and follow her on Twitter!

Dear Debt,

I didn’t know about you until I graduated college and joined the real world. Just like the bad economy and lack of jobs, you were a surprise.

At first, you were a tiny nuisance—$3,500 that I owed my parents for the blessed summer spent studying and interning abroad. I figured I’d get to you when I started making money. Compared to the large payback sum my brother owed for college, you were a pittance.

Little did I know jobs would be so scarce and my desperation for anything paid and full-time would force me to move hundreds of miles away for a poverty-level paycheck. Moving expenses occurred, giving me my first taste of you in the consumer world.

When my first post-college Christmas came, I felt I could finally buy my family decent gifts. Over a grand later, I was suffering from sticker shock. I didn’t make enough to pay you off and I hadn’t realized how fast you accumulated after the move.

I worked hard to pay you down.

And then I had to move two more times in a 6-month period. First to a new living situation, and then to a new town and a new job.

The new town’s cost of living was double what I’d been used to. The increase in salary was barely enough to cover rent and utilities. Fixed costs took up 75 percent of my budget. I felt suffocated and trapped, with little room for improvement. At the small company where I worked, substantial extra funds and raises weren’t part of the deal.

At first I ignored you, because it was easier. But then I realized I’d never get ahead in life if I always had you holding onto my ankle, pulling me under. Deciding to quit you, I strapped down and started to make real headway.

Life, however, had other ideas. A new love entered my life. Long-distance love. I felt the sting of high gas prices as I filled my car more often to see him. I was spending money for us to eat out, helped pay for trips and gave gifts I really couldn’t afford. The haze of love and fun clouded my judgment and I pretended not to care. Before I knew it, your balance was higher than ever before and you seemed proud of my defeat.

Sadly, I did feel defeated by you, especially after I quit my job without a plan, knowing I needed to find a better location and job. I had money saved, but I refused to put it toward you. It was my safety net for my next venture.

When luck came my way and a wonderful new opportunity presented itself, I used the savings first. Moving, getting set up in a new town and waiting two weeks for my first paycheck quickly depleted savings and made me reach for you out of desperation. My social life was active and full and I wanted to participate as much as possible, so I turned a blind eye to the ramifications of relying on you to help me fit in.

You were a bad habit I couldn’t quit.

Things finally got out of control when my new card, opened solely for emergencies, had been used for everything but. I made a plan and decided to pay you down, once and for all.
It’s been a long road, with unexpected expenses popping up along the way, but each month I reassess my battle plan for kicking you out and each month I remain hopeful that soon, you’ll no longer have a grasp on my life. Soon, I will have you under control and I will have learned how to properly handle consumer debt. Because I am stronger than you. And this time, I mean business.

This post is in: dear debt letter

I am so excited to share my debt totals today. This is a far stretch from my lackluster payments the past few months, which I was embarrassed to share with you.

But finally my income has started to increase. Finally my hard work is paying off.  It’s the greatest feeling in the whole world to have my income improve and have people come to me for work.

I feel like when you first start out, you hustle hard, work for low pay and you are trying so hard to build a name for yourself. If you work hard, those things do all work in your favor — eventually.

Before you think I have a glamorous life, or that it has come easy, let me offer some perspective. My RescueTime tells me I have logged nearly 60 hours a week since I started. I also work every weekend and every day — something that I’d like to change. Even so, I’m still grateful.

Starting this blog was the best thing I ever did. Yes, this blog itself hardly makes any money (no Adsense here), but it has served as a platform for my writing. It’s my own little space on the internet. And I’ve met the most beautiful and inspiring friends — and I hope to make more at FinCon this year (are you going?!)

So, drum roll please…

I put $1,700 to debt, $300 to my moving fund and $100 to other savings goals. That’s $2,100 towards debt and savings this month! I know for some debt rockstars that’s a normal payment and I applaud you! But let’s review my financial situation.

One year ago my take home salary from my nonprofit job was $1,800 per month. And the year before that, I was working a seasonal temp job and bringing in $1,300 a month.

Essentially, I put the equivalent of my old salary and then some towards debt and savings! I can’t believe it.

If you’re a long time reader, you know that when I started this blog I was not in a good place. I got a master’s degree and moved to Portland to be with my partner and could not find a full-time job. After previously having a successful career in LA, (which also at its max only made $38,000), I was disheartened and deeply in debt. Everything felt like a joke and a sham.

When you are in that deep of a depression, it’s difficult to remember that there are blue skies beyond the gray clouds. All you see is the storm and it feels like it will never go away.

I want to cherish this moment because I want to remember that good times and bad times come and go. Nothing is forever. So if you are dealing with a particularly tough time right now, have faith, and keep trying. It will get better. I promise. It may take years and test your patience and make you feel like you are losing your mind. But life isn’t for the weak, it’s for the fighters. You can do it.

Because I’m dealing with an upswing right now, I want to practice gratitude for this moment. It could be stripped of me and things change month to month. So I will celebrate this win and continue to work hard and be grateful for everyone that has helped me along the way.

After putting all that money to debt, here are my final numbers:

Undergraduate Loan: $5,490.83
Graduate Loan: $25,293.67
Total Debt: $30,784.50

Ahhh, I’m so close to getting to the twenties! Probably next month. I took out a total of $81,000 in debt in my lifetime and when I graduated with my M.A. in 2011, I had $68,000 left.  I’m hoping that I can continue on this path of growing my income and expediting my debt repayment. Even though my payments have been large, relative to my income, this process is still dragging out. I am sooooooo done with debt.

All of this has me questioning my potential move, which is crazy. I keep wondering if I can just hold on a little longer and enjoy the lower cost of living (compared to where we want to move) and kill this debt in a year or two.

We’ll be making a final decision about everything in August, so we’ll see. But I’m worried as I generally don’t love Portland nine months out of the year, but the summer is so freaking glorious here. I will try to make an unbiased decision in August, but I know the nice weather will be cooing sweet nothings in my ear.

So, that’s my exciting debt update! Also, if any of you have been dying to write a dear debt letter, I’d love to feature your letter over the next two weeks while I’m on vacation. People generally feel some sort of catharsis through the process of writing a breakup letter, so I highly recommend it.  :)

How was your debt repayment this month?

This post is in: end of month update

April 20, 2015

Happy Monday everyone!

Can I tell you why I’m super jazzed? April has been the best month for my income in my whole life. I was waiting on a lot of payments and they all seemed to come in April.

So I far surpassed my old salary, and even went far over what I made with my full-time job and side hustling. Man does it feel good. I’ve been working my tail off wondering if it was all worth it. Yes, money isn’t everything, but considering how hard/much I’ve been working, it was nice to see this financial validation.

What does this mean? You’ll see some exciting debt repayment updates soon! Woo hoo.

I wanted to keep it short and sweet today as I’m currently drowning in work trying to get ahead, so I can actually take time off next week when I go to Spain. Ahhhh! I feel so unprepared. Like, not even excited about it yet, because I have so much work to do until I get there that my heart skips a beat just thinking about it.

Anyway, because I’m so happy about making extra money, I wanted to share some of my favorite articles on making money:

29 Smart Ways to Make Money on the Side in 2015 via The Penny Hoarder

50+ Ways To Make Money Fast By Side Hustling via The College Investor

How To Make Extra Money With A Side Hustle (That Pays Up to $50/hour) via Student Loan Hero, by yours truly :)

Also, just for fun, if you really need some laughs this Monday morning, listen to this hilarious podcast with my girls. Apparently, I’ve missed my calling as a phone sex operator. New side hustle? Haha. If you are really strapped for time, start listening at minute 42.

Now, go make that money!

This post is in: side hustle

What if you had a friend that was always begging you for money — hitting you up for $3 here, $10 there. You know, nothing big, but they were very consistent. You felt bad for them, so just kind of kept them around as your friend.

Now imagine this. Your new lover just simply adores you and cannot stop calling you. What you thought was love, is quickly turning into harassment. Unwanted calls and letters — you feel like you lost your sense of self and cannot escape.

Let’s consider another situation. You go to a job and do all your duties, but when you get paid, you only get half of your check, because your employer thinks you owe them for giving you a job.

Would you put up with any of these situations?

I hope there is a resounding HELL NO.

And if that’s the case, why are you putting up with the same crap from debt? Debt is personified in all of these scenarios. Debt is your conniving co-worker, your harassing lover, and your broke friend.

You wouldn’t put up with that, so don’t put up with the same crap from your debt.

It’s time to DUMP DEBT.

Break up, already.

Debt is SO out of style.

Don’t think about how you don’t know what to do with your life without debt. You’re so much stronger than that. Your life will mean so much more without debt and you’ll finally be able to see all the beauty you alone possess.

I want to preach the gospel of getting out of debt, because I too am sick and tired of being in debt. I’m sick of feeling used and sick of seeing my hard work go to debt.

I know I can reclaim my life, my finances, and my future at the end of this journey. And so can you!

Are you with me?

This post is in: debt

This post is part of the TaxACT #BeatTheDeadline blog tour which shares tips on how to make tax time a smooth and easy process before the April 15 deadline. TaxACT provides the tools and guidance to help you confidently file taxes easy and fast. Do your own taxes today at TaxACT. You got this.

I absolutely love being my own boss and working on my own schedule. I can let my inner night owl do its thing, without having to be “on” at 9am. I can respond to things in my own time. And I can take afternoon naps. It’s so lovely.

But one area that is drastically different and kind of a pain? My taxes. It was so easy to do my taxes when I had one W2 to deal with. This year alone, I had one W2 and about 10 different 1099s. It was also the first year that I had to do quarterly taxes because of my self-employed status.

If you are just starting out, learn from my mistakes and disorganization! Here are some tips to make the tax process a bit easier.

Save More

Luckily, I did one thing right and I saved a lot for my taxes. Being self-employed, I saved 30% of all my income. After all, when you work for yourself you have to pay your portion of social security and medicare. It turns out I saved more than I needed to, because I’m not actually in the 30% tax bracket. But I’m happy to have the money in my account and ready to pay! It’s much better than the converse. I’d much rather have the money in the bank, rather than scrounging up money to pay my tax bill.

If you are self-employed, always save more for taxes than you think you need to. If you saved more than you need to, you can always use it elsewhere, or just carry it over until the next quarterly payment.

Keep Your Receipts

I have a bad habit with receipts — for my whole adult life, I’ve considered them trash. I would immediately crumble them up and throw them away. Now that I’m self-employed? I need to change my habits. I can deduct my business expenses, which means I need to keep proper documentation of my expenses, with receipts.

As a business owner, you can deduct many things from your taxes. If you work online like I do, you can deduct your internet, part of your phone bill, and computer expenses. Luckily, I was smart enough to keep my receipt when my computer crashed last fall. All of your expenses can help lower your tax liability, so keep your receipts! You can go old school and keep your receipts in an envelope or a folder, or use something like Expensify.

I know that I missed out on a lot of deductions — i could have deducted blogger happy hour expenses and FinCon expenses as part of my business, but I didn’t keep good records of it. This year, I am doing a much better job of keeping my receipts!

Get a Business Checking Account

Something that I am in the process of doing asap is getting a proper business checking account (I know, I know, I’m late to the party). At first I thought it was cool to just keep getting paid in my personal account — I was growing my business and not making that much in the beginning. But now I’m making more and if I want to take myself and my business seriously, I need a business checking account. Not only that, I am now seeing firsthand how much easier it makes it to track your income and expenses. I had to comb through my PayPal and my personal account to make sure all my income was accounted for (side note, if you have an affordable bookkeeping software you love, let me know).

It was such a pain. I admit that I feel confident in what I offer as part of my business, but I am just not very good when it comes to administrative stuff. It’s the last thing on my mind and I’d rather focus my energy elsewhere. But this year I’ve learned so much and realized I do need to have systems in place to make sure my taxes are not a nightmare and that I have money in the bank to pay my quarterly tax bill.

If you are self-employed, or even have a side business, make sure you are saving enough for your taxes, keeping proper documentation of your expenses and income, and that you are reporting all your income.

What other tips do you have to add for self-employed folks doing their taxes?

Beating the tax deadline doesn’t have to be stressful. With TaxACT, everything you need to confidently prepare and e-file your taxes is right at your fingertips. You got this. File your simple or complex federal return FREE today with TaxACT Free Edition.

p.s. My boyfriend ended up using TaxACT this year and it was super user-friendly and easy!

This post is in: taxes

April 6, 2015

I can’t believe I quit my job 8 months ago to work for myself. When I quit in July, I would not have anticipated some of the cool and crazy things that have happened. Working for yourself is hard work, but there are moments of blinding goodness that just make everything worth it (like sending invoices from a Las Vegas bar, which I did last week). There are also times when you feel like giving up because you put so much of yourself into your work — it can be a really vulnerable place.

But I haven’t regretted my decision one bit and I’m quite happy with the flexibility this lifestyle affords me.

As a solopreneur, hustler, and all around workaholic, I love getting to peek into what other people use to manage their life, money, and business. So, I thought I’d share with you some of my favorite things that help me live happy, save money, and rock my business.

While I can’t be like Oprah and give you lots of swag, there are some sweet bonuses I can offer.

Postmates

I had never heard of Postmates until a few weeks ago and I have to say that I’m in love. I found out about the service from someone I follow on Twitter and was happily surprised that Postmates just recently came to Portland and Phoenix. Postmates is a food delivery service that brings your favorite food straight to your doorstep. Want Chipotle delivered when you are sick in bed? Done. Working on an intense deadline and can’t leave the house or cook? Get some food delivered.

Now, I know food delivery isn’t the most frugal thing in the world. BUT Postmates is always having various promotions giving out free things — sometimes with free delivery. I signed up for the app and was immediately sent an email for free bagel delivery — 2 bagels with cream cheese, delivered straight to my door. I thought it was too good to be true, but it wasn’t. The delivery fee was waived and the food was free. Of course, I tipped the guy, so it wasn’t 100% free, but it was still worth it.

While my frugal (or cheap?) self has mostly milked the promotions, I like having options when I’m sick, busy, etc. Also, while they deliver mostly food, you can also order every day items like toilet paper or contact lens solution. I think Postmates is going to blow up, so get in while this biz is good — and for my side hustler friends, consider becoming a Postmate. You can make up to $25 per hour!

Use my referral code, rbyva, for $10.00 in delivery fee credit. Get the app here: http://postmates.com

Capital One 360

My finances would be a disaster without my targeted savings accounts for all my goals. Capital One 360 lets you open up to 25 savings accounts! If you want to be really clear about your money and savings goals, set up a saving account for each. You can nickname them whatever you want, so have fun with it. I recently created a saving account and named it the GTFOPDX fund (I stole this idea from Carrie). In addition to my moving fund, I also have savings accounts for my emergency fund, taxes, travel, and FinCon15.

If you open up a savings account with $250, you’ll get a $25 bonus! Or get a fee-free checking account and get a $50 bonus (this is my own personal referral link).

Swagbucks

As someone who lives on the internet and works as a writer, I am always looking things up from spelling and grammar, to definitions, sources, etc. If you want to get paid to search the internet, take surveys, and more, Swagbucks is where it is at. Swagbucks saved me in Las Vegas — after a few frugal fails on day 1, I was looking for an affordable breakfast in Las Vegas. Luckily, I had enough Swagbucks to get a $15 Starbucks gift card. Woo hoo, free coffee and food (even though it was still way overpriced in LV).

Start making money today!

Chase Sapphire Preferred

So how in the heck did I fly to Vegas for free? With the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. I love this card because you get double points for eating out (which is my one weakness aside from travel). This card is super flexible — you can book within their system or transfer your points to a partner airline. This card is a huge favorite in the personal finance world and now I know why.

It was kind of hilarious – a few weeks ago, I went to a blogger happy hour in Portland and we ALL laid down the Chase Sapphire Preferred when it was time to pay lol. Quite amusing for the waitress.

If you want to get 40,000 bonus points with Chase Sapphire Preferred®,  apply here. Spending minimums may be required. Also, this should only be considered by those who pay their cards in full each month. In NO WAY am I trying to promote credit card debt, ya know? So even though travel hacking is nice, don’t drink the kool aid if it’s not for you.

Gradible

I want my student loans gone, like, yesterday! Don’t you? I recently found out about Gradible, a web-based platform that can help you pay off your student loans faster. You can take surveys, shop, and perform various tasks and earn LoanCreds which go directly to your student loans. If you use my link, you’ll get 20 LoanCreds and so will I. BOOM! How much is 20 LoanCreds worth? $2. You won’t get rich from the site, but anything helps! Sign up and dump that debt.

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YouGov

One thing that I hate about taking surveys is that they are usually boring as $%&!. I have never felt that way when taking a YouGov survey. They are pretty easy and their point accumulation is nice and can be redeemed for gift cards. I have to thank Michelle from FitNPoor for this one!

RescueTime

When I first quit my job, it was the first time in my life I didn’t have someone lurking over my shoulder telling me what to do. It was liberating…and kind of confusing. I didn’t know what to do with myself! I’ve always been self-motivated, but it was a huge shift for me. You have to have remarkable discipline to be your own boss and stay on task. I’ve gotten a lot better with time management and minimizing distractions, but a few months ago, I downloaded RescueTime to help see where my time was going.

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Think of RescueTime like the Mint.com of time. If you want to know where you are spending your time online, this free app can help you do just that. I was shocked to find out I was spending 11 hours a week on email and 5 on Facebook (ugh). Now that I realize where some of the time sucks are, I’m making adjustments. If you get their premium version, you can even block some of those distracting sites. RescueTime sends you weekly reports so you can see how much time you are spending online, which has been a huge eye opener for me. If you want to track your time, sign up for free!

These are a few of my favorite things (in my best Julie Andrews voice). What are your favorite things?

**There are referral links in this post — you’ll get a bonus and so will I. I don’t share things that I don’t love, because…why? I hope you enjoy these things as much as I do!**

This post is in: Entrepreneurship