Category Archives: Ways to Make Money

How to Claim Your Unclaimed Money and Avoid Scams

This totally happened to my husband! He had unclaimed money in the state treasury, but someone still tried to get him with this scam.

Do you have unclaimed money sitting around just waiting for you?

Believe it or not, you may, and you could find it sitting in your state treasury.

When a business or other entity tries to issue a payment to you, but they are not able to reach you, they don’t just get to pocket it. They have to deposit it with your state.

Maybe you moved and they didn’t know  your new address. Maybe you were set up on direct deposit and switched bank accounts. Whatever the reason for the discrepancy, the money must eventually makes its way to the state for safe keeping.

How to Get What’s Yours: Unclaimed Money

To check and see if you have any funds waiting, you can use this interactive tool to find the landing page for unclaimed money for your, specific state.

From there, you’ll be able to search your state’s treasury to see if there is any money waiting in your name. If there is, it will pop up with some basic information, including the last address on file and the name of the company that originally issued the payment.

You will not know exactly how much you have waiting for you, even if something pops up. In my home state of Pennsylvania, the treasury classifies funds as “over $100” or “under $100.” You won’t know the exact number until you receive the check in the mail.

Before you receive that check in the mail, you have to fill out some paperwork. You can print it out from your state treasury’s website or request that a hard copy be mailed to you. You’ll have to verify that you are the person who is owed money and sign the supporting documentation in front of a notary.

After the treasury has received your paperwork, they will issue you your long, lost check.

We did this years ago, and while we didn’t turn anything up for ourselves, we did find something for my mother-in-law. It turns out she had a final paycheck waiting for her from a past employer. She had fought them over it at the time, but got tired of the battle. Apparently they eventually realized she was right, but not before losing contact with her.

It was nice for her to receive a legit paycheck in retirement!

How to Avoid Scams Related to Unclaimed Money

Recently, the husband received a letter in the mail. In this letter, the company told him he had unclaimed funds amounting to around $2,000. They did have a specific amount, which I’m not sure how they got, but I’m not sharing his personal info on the internet.

To claim them, all he had to do was fill out the enclosed paperwork certifying that they would get a 15% cut. That would have been around $300.

THIS WAS A TOTAL SCAM.

They weren’t completely misleading—he did have unclaimed money waiting for him with the state treasury amounting to the same figure that they laid out. But they didn’t disclose that he could get the money on his own—without paying anyone commission—simply by going to the state’s website and filing the paperwork himself.

Which we did. It turns out that big check was an insurance claim that he had fought for and subsequently given up on, even though they really owed it to him. The insurance company eventually figured that out, too, though I’m not sure how they “lost touch” with him since he’s had continuous policies with them for years.

There was an added bonus we discovered, too–an over payment on school district taxes.

The moral of the story is two-fold:

  1. Check your state treasury’s for unclaimed money regularly. Just because you don’t have money in there today doesn’t mean you won’t in six months.
  2. Never ever release personal information or pay someone a commission to file simple paperwork for you. If they say they’ve got money for you, there’s no reason you should have to pay them to access it. Do some digging, find out where the money is and go get it yourself.

How To Make A Side Income As A Massage Therapist

True story: I have an appointment scheduled to give a massage therapist my money on Monday. If you’re interested in getting in on the other side of this deal by earning money as a massage therapist, check out this post brought to you and contributed by Abby Locker.

Becoming a massage therapist looks like a pretty viable way to bring in some side income!

If you are looking for a way to make extra money on the side, it can be difficult to figure out what will pay well. One option is to become a massage therapist. The pay is good because you will be a highly-skilled professional. On average, the going rate is around $60.

If you decide to work for yourself as a freelance massage therapist, you can choose your own hours, visiting local offices and businesses with a portable chair. Portable massage chairs start at a mere $100 and only weigh about 9 lbs. While this will provide you with the basics, you can also choose deluxe versions that provide you with every feature you can imagine. At the most, these only weigh about 25 lbs.

Why Start A Massage Business?

Before delving into how to get started as a massage therapist, let’s briefly talk about why massage therapy pays well and why massage therapists are always in high demand in any economy.

The reason why the profession pays as well as it does it is because you are trained to understand everything you need to know about how to heal the human body through touch. You will get an extensive education on physiology when you enroll in a massage therapy school. You will be trained to work in a deliberate, clinical way to restore a person’s well-being after an injury or to help with a certain health problem. In short, you will learn exactly what needs to be done to heal or ameliorate a wide variety of physical problems.

The reason you will be in high demand is because you will provide clients with the following benefits:

  1. You will help clients achieve a state of deep physical relaxation with a professional massage because massage lowers high cortisol levels while increasing the level of endorphins.
  2. You will help clients get relief from pain with a professional massage because massage relaxes tense muscles while releasing nerve compression.
  3. You will help clients improve their flexibility with a professional massage because massage relieves tightness in muscles, ligaments, and tendons. When people sit at a desk for hours, and do this day after day, their muscular flexibility decreases, as well as their range of motion.
  4. You will help clients regain their energy, vitality, and mental clarity with a professional massage because you will improve their blood and lymph circulation. When circulation improves, cells are able to absorb fresh oxygen and eliminate waste products.
  5. You will help clients restore their relaxation response with a professional massage because you will decrease the pent up tension stored in their muscles, usually a result of stress, anxiety, and dealing with the numerous pressures of the working life.

Make sure that you outline all these benefits (and more) in your product literature, whether it is a flyer or a business website. Once people understand the enormous benefits of having someone come in at a scheduled time and relieve them of all these profound benefits, you will get so much business that you will have to turn gigs down. When marketing your business, also mention how massage therapy can potentially be covered by your health insurance.

How to Get Skilled Up

So, how do you start?

There are basically three steps: first, you go to massage therapy school; second, you get licensed; and third, you set up a business entity.

Let’s quickly go through these three steps.

  1. Massage therapy school. There is no shortage of massage therapy schools, and you can easily find one in your local area by doing a Google search. The cost ranges and scholarships are often available. Find something that will give you the expertise you desire and enroll.
  2. Licensing. After you graduate from massage therapy school, you will need to get state licensing. Usually, states require that you pass the MBLEx— the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Exam.
  3. Business entity. After you’ve got your education and become licensed, you are all set up to register a business. A few inquiries about business licensing will help you quickly go through the necessary steps to incorporate your business. It’s a good idea not to skip this step even if you are a freelancer as it will help you with insurance and taxation issues.

Massage Equipment and Supplies

Besides getting a massage chair, what else do you need in terms of equipment and supplies?

Here are some things that would be nice to have to enhance your professional image when you visit people in their homes or offices: Microfiber quilted blankets; headrests and footrests; white sheets; aromatherapy oils; massage oils, gels, and creams; fiber filled pillows; and body mist sprays.

A Flexible Business Model

While you might start out as a freelance massage therapist, you are always free to change your business model. You may decide, for example, that you want to focus more on doing the massage itself rather than the business aspect of generating your own leads and finding your own clients. Conversely, you might want to set up your own clinic.

So, besides freelancing, here are 3 other career options:

  1. Work on a cruise ship or at a spa, gym, or clinic.
  2. Create your own clinic, getting a business loan and hiring other massage therapists to work for you.
  3. Become a massage therapy teacher.

A Great Career Choice

Regardless of how you plan to grow your business, you are in a high-growth occupation. According to an article in Chron about massage therapy careers, career growth between 2010 and 2020 is expected to be 20%, while projected growth for all occupations sits at only fourteen percent.

 

Anxiety and the Hustle Mindset

I just got back from a conference that is very much about the hustle mindset. It’s not a bad thing—if you want something, you’re going to have to work hard for it. As a matter of fact, it’s that very same sense of urgency that helped us pull our way out of poverty.

But sometimes, the hustle mindset gets to be too much. We’re told that if we want to be more, we have to do more. If we want to produce more, we have to stay up all hours–as long as we meet our sometimes unrealistic goals.

This mindset, which is meant to inspire from a place of abundance, can lead to a feeling of scarcity and, ultimately, anxiety. Why am I not achieving as much as the person next to me? I’m working so hard, but not seeing results! If I just push harder—wait, how the hell am I supposed to get all of this done?

I think as strong as the hustle mindset is in our community, there’s also a massive amount of anxiety that goes along with it which remains largely unaddressed. I’m all about working to make your situation better, but if you find yourself overwhelmed or tearing yourself apart, take a deep breath and remember these things:

We DON’T all have the same amount of time in a day.

This is such a harmful saying!

You see that saying? I hate that saying. It’s the biggest pile of crap I’ve ever heard.

Mathematically speaking, we are all on the same oblong orb that spins around the sun at an identical rate for all of us each and every day.

But practically speaking? It’s just not true.

When I think back to 22-year-old Femme, I’m thinking of a completely different life with completely different obligations. Sure, I had a job where I worked 40 hours a week. Then I’d come home and sometimes hustle a little bit, but mostly I had time to do whatever the heck I wanted. In this lifestyle time frame, I had the time to take on the most Herculean of tasks: starting a blog.

Fast forward six to seven years. It’s not just me, anymore. I still work full-time, but also have children, one of whom has special needs. My husband and I have to shuttle them around and give all that extra love and care at home. It’s rewarding, but it doesn’t leave time for much else.

Except that there is much else. He’s in school. I have to fight with insurance at least once a year to keep my kids on their plan (which could be a full-time job in and of itself.) Some of our family lives in a food desert, so we help out every once in a while with transportation to the store.

None of these things are bad or anything we begrudge doing. But they are obligations outside of ourselves. Twenty-two year old Femme had to deal with none of it. There was so much time for hustle.

Maybe you’re twenty-two and have a lot more obligations than I did. Maybe you’re my age and have a lot less. Age is irrelevant. The point is, we never know what’s going on in someone’s life, and just because they don’t have the spare time to dedicate towards extraneous work-related endeavors doesn’t mean we should pass judgement. That includes not passing judgement on ourselves.

Taking breaks is good for you. And your business.

swimming tulum ruins

Constant hustle is straight up draining. I don’t care how bad-a you think you are compared to the rest of the world. Study after study shows that we as human beings only have so much energy we can exert before our cognition starts to deteriorate.

They also show that taking a break inspires greater creativity, and can make us even more effective and good at what we do when we come back. It’s why Google schedules play time for their employees like they’re ten. That space for childlike fun is still important when we’re adults.

By the same token, vacations are good, too, whether they’re extravagant or super budget. Taking time off is important for your soul, body and business. You do not have to be on all the time. In fact, if you are,  you’re probably not performing at your optimal level.

But I can’t take a break…

I hear you. If you’re operating from a place where resources are scarce, you might not have the option of slowing down. If you want to talk, email me. I’ve figured out some ways in my own life that have led to increased income and good financial habits so I don’t have to hustle as much to keep food on the table. I’d love to see if they could help you, too.

But if you’re not operating from a place where resources are scarce, know that you’re ultimately acting out of a place of empowerment rather than necessity.

Money is nice. Success and recognition can feel good. But all of it is for naught if you don’t cut yourself a break every once in a while. Acknowledge the power you have not just to be materially successful, but also to take care of your mental health as a human being. Ultimately, the latter is much more important and will have a much more positive impact on your life.

5 Things You Can Do to Boost Your Salary

I didn't realize that I had so much of the power needed to boost my own salary.

When it comes to salary, there is almost always going to be a bias.

Sometimes, the bias might be due to unfair treatment and sometimes it might be due to poor salary negotiation.

I interviewed two college candidates for an engineer position in my company.

Both did well, and my team had gauged them to be at the same level.

Both of them told me what they were looking for in terms of salary, and obviously, one told me a number few thousand dollars lower than the other.

I could have hired them both for what they asked for.

However, it didn’t agree with my moral compass and I hired them both at the same pay.

This is not what every hiring manager would do.

If I had hired them both for what they had asked for, whose mistake do you think it is?

Here is what Linda Babcock, author of Women Don’t Ask has to say:

“Women don’t ask. They don’t ask for raises and promotions and better job opportunities. They don’t ask for recognition for the work they do. In other words, women are much less likely than men to use negotiation to get what they want.”

While this might not be true for every woman, it sure does apply to a vast majority of women in the workforce today.

When it comes to career and salary negotiations, you can either play the victim card, or be the captain of your ship.

The choice is totally in your hands.

If you play the victim card, you are not going to get much further.

I have always been the captain of my ship and it has helped me overcome barriers and do well for myself.

In this post, I share things that I have learned that have helped me in my career growth, salary raises, and promotions. While what I share is gender neutral, I would encourage women to consider what has worked for me over the years.

negotiate-salary

#1 Thou Shalt Ask

The first and foremost thing to do in any job is to let your supervisor know what your career aspirations are. The moment you earn their trust you should let them know your desire for promotion and get their feedback on where your career is headed.

If you get clear guidance, then it is a good sign.

It certainly needs to be followed through both by you and your boss – you meeting your boss’s expectations in terms of work and your boss promoting you to the next level when you meet the expectations for the next level up at the agreed upon time.

If you are perceived to be worthy, then you will get clear guidance. If not, you will get a vague response, which means you are chances of getting promoted are most likely slim.

I have had a lot of people report to me over the years. Only a hand few have come up and asked for a promotion or their desire to go to the next level.

These were the ambitious ones – guess who got promoted?

Of course, whoever got promoted was deserving.

Did I promote people who didn’t ask me? Of course, I did.

What am I trying to say – the likelihood of you being promoted is much higher if you are proactive about it.

What do they say – Crying babies get milk and squeaky wheels get greased. So it is with promotions and raises.

know-your-worth

#2 Believe In Yourself and Be Diligent

Sarah (my wife) often asks me – why do you act so confident?

It is not pride or arrogance. People who know me personally would second that.

Here is what I tell Sarah – “If I don’t believe in myself, then nobody else ever will.”

I couldn’t emphasize this truth more.

When I was an engineer, I believed I was the best! I became a manager in four years instead of eight years that it typically took in my company.

I believed I was the best.

You know what – you belief affects your behavior and the quality of work you put out.

You don’t need to outsmart your peers, but you sure can outwork them.

My promotion to the manager position was mainly due to the quality of work and me outworking my peers.

If there was a crisis, the boss man would come to me first – the reason was simple. He believed in the quality of my work and he couldn’t find more diligence.

Many supervisors have told me “You are the best and that is why I am asking for your help.”

eyes-everywhere

#3 Eyes Everywhere

Whether you believe it or not, people above you are always watching what you are doing.

I was hired to be a senior manager in another positon in my company with no interview.

The director of the division had seen my work and hired me.

Honestly, I was shocked.

I didn’t know him though I had seen him a few times in meetings. However, he seemed to know all about me.

If you are good at what you do, you will get noticed.

know-your-worth-salary

#4 Know Your Worth

When you go to a store, you see every item has a price tag.

Similarly, we all kind of have an invisible salary tag that we wear so to speak.

This is what we believe we are worth.

Knowing the average salary for your profession is a good starting point and a good frame of reference.

What do you believe you are worth?

I want you to close your eyes, ponder, and then write on a piece of paper what you truly believe your salary ought to be.

You can’t lie to yourself.

If you believe you are getting paid more than what you are worth, then you are at a good place.

Be thankful!

If you believe you are underpaid, or grossly underpaid, then what are you waiting for?

Do you need someone to come kick you in the rear and tell you to go look for a better job opportunity?

Go on and look for a better opportunity and prove to yourself that you are worth what you believe to be!

About two and a half years back, I believed I was grossly underpaid.

I was frustrated and asking didn’t work.

My boss’s response was something along the lines of “You are really good at what you do, you are underpaid, and I can’t do anything to fix it given the current circumstances of the company.”

This is typical in a stagnated large corporation. I had heard this for twelve months and had had enough.

I started looking for a better opportunity and landed on a new position with 40% more pay.

From being grossly underpaid, I went to being thankful.

When it comes to salary / promotion, you are 100% in charge of your destiny.

It is not your boss’s responsibility or someone else’s. It truly comes down to you.

ask

#5 Salary Negotiation

Okay, you are attending an interview and it is going well. During the interview, this question is most likely to come up – what are your salary expectations?

The best thing to do is to say that you are “open”. Let the hiring manager or HR come up with the first offer.

Always remember, the person who makes the first offer is at a weaker point of negotiation.

If you speak first, you lose. You will never know what the hiring manager may have offered.

Once you receive the offer, you can always ask for more if you don’t like what is being offered or not take the position if you are low-balled.

This strategy has worked well for me every single time.

 

What has worked for you to boost your salary? I would love to hear your feedback.

 

Author Bio: K. Michael Srinivasan, author of personal finance blog Stretch A Dime, where he writes about Personal Finance, Investing, and Frugal Living. He is the author of the book “High School Money Hacks”.

5 Steps to Launching a Side Business

Today I’d like to welcome my friend and fellow FinConPgh-er, Claudia. Back in March, Claudia presented on SEO at one of our meetings. She absolutely blew my mind. I’ve been working through her course, SEO Audit Guide, and have been seeing noticable results since. (My website is large as it’s 5+ years old, so reform is taking a while, but the process is well worth it.)

Claudia knows her stuff when it comes to SEO. If you’re going to FinCon, be sure to catch her presentation. She also knows the struggles of starting a new business as she’s just been through the process herself. I’m so glad that she’s sharing her new-found wisdom with us today. Take it away, Claudia!

Totes need to take this course! Have been thinking about launching my own side business for sooo long...

 

Starting a business isn’t nearly as scary as it sounds.  Trust me.  I thought that starting a business would be a challenging, difficult, and time-consuming process, which is why I waited until 2016 to launch my first business.

For years, I worked the 1099 life as a freelancer in SEO out of fear that starting a business would be difficult and that my business would fail.  If you believe what you read in the news, most businesses fail.  However, I’d argue that the failure isn’t the business itself, but rather, the business system that fails.

With the doors officially opened, the SEO work continues to pour in.  Our latest endeavor is in teaching others how to start a side hustle or a side business in SEO.  Our online course provides everything you need to learn the four core SEO services as well as the supporting documents you need to find clients, pitch clients, report on your work, and more.

Step 1: Research side business ideas.

Making a decision is the hardest part.  Selling products often requires a significant investment of capital to purchase inventory, build a platform, build an audience, etc.

Selling services often requires very little capital to get started beyond that which you need for training and business formation (if desired).

Why do I love SEO as a side business?

  1. It’s a service that’s needed across the world, so I’m not bound by geography.
  2. It’s a low barrier to entry so anyone willing to invest the time in training can get started.

Spend some time researching the type of business you want to start, but don’t wait too long to decide.  If you’re like me, you’ve been thinking about starting a business for some time, but you haven’t moved forward.  My only regret is not starting sooner.

“Don’t wait.  The time will never be just right.”

– Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich!

Step 2: Create one SMART goal.

Once you’ve decided on a business, set yourself up for success.  You want your business to be a success.  I want your business to be a success.  Having SMART goals and making progress toward those goals will help your new business be successful.  What do I mean by SMART goals?

S: Specific

M: Measurable

A: Actionable

R: Realistic

T: Time-bound

Set at least one SMART goal that you want to achieve in your side business.  You can always add more goals later!  If you’re interested in SEO as a side business, set a goal to complete training by X date.

Being clear about my personal and professional goals helps me stay motivated while having SMART goals help me make progress.  Knowing what I want to achieve and when is the reason why my side business has been profitable.

“A goal is a dream with a deadline.”

– Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich!

Step 3: Find your first client.

Find a client before I’ve learned SEO or launched a business?  What?!  Yes!  Find your first client.  Your first client is the most difficult to find (or at least that’s what you might be thinking to yourself).  SEO is something that every small business owner needs, but they may not have the time to do it themselves.  Consequently, small business owners outsource their SEO efforts to the experts.

Of the top concerns my SEO students discuss with me, finding client #1 is consistently at the top of the list.  Many students fear that they have to cold call or go door to door to find SEO clients, so they don’t move forward on starting a side hustle or side business because of their fears.

To put any concerns you may have to rest, find your first SEO client before you launch your SEO side business.  You’ll start your business with confidence and the money you need for business formation (if you choose).  Additionally, your first client can be your best referral source.  Do an excellent job serving your first client and you’ll soon find more clients beating a path to your door.

Your first client can be a friend, family member, neighbor, a former employer, or even the owner of a local business you frequent.  Tell everyone you know you’re launching an SEO business.  Add a note in your social media profiles.  Put a signature line in your email account.  Update your LinkedIn profile.  The channels for getting the word out there are endless.

“Your big opportunity may be right where you are now.”

– Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich!

Step 4: Complete the online SEO training courses.

Our online courses accelerate the pace at which you can learn SEO.  We cut out all of the SEO theory you might read about in various blogs.  Our online courses focus on only the fundamentals of SEO, why SEO works, and how to complete the four core SEO services: the SEO website audits, keyword research, content audits, and content marketing.

Our online courses also give you more tips on finding and pitching clients for your business and reporters for content marketing.  We provide the report templates you need for the various services you choose to offer.  We even provide an invoice template so you can bill your clients.  Everything you need to get started in your side business is included.

 

Step 5: Get to work!

You’re ready.  You have your first client.  You’re a trained SEO consultant.  If you took swift action, chances are you completed the SEO courses in the same week you found your first client.  You’re ready to get to work!

After completing our SEO courses, you’re not left to wander.  You are one private Facebook group away from connect with other students who completed our online courses.  If you ever have a question or you just want to connect with other side business owners, the Facebook group is the place to go.

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