Category Archives: Ways to Make Money

Money Hacks in a Time of Social Distancing

Alright, guys.

The other day I promised I’d share my answers as I found them. That’s what I’m doing today.

If you’re struggling with money right now, as so many are, here are some new, relevant ideas on where you can get more money to get through this as best you can.

Emergency Bills and Social Media

Before we get started, note that there has been stuff moving through Congress that could help you right now. As of this writing, the stuff that has actually passed is a patchwork that leaves a lot of people out. But there is still more in the pipes. Stay up-to-date with this iHeartBudgets resource.

You can also look to social media. Individuals and companies are giving away money in their @s.

This is inspiring to see, and is helping a lot of people. It’s happened to my own family members, and for that I don’t know if I can express the well of gratitude that’s now permanently lodged in my heart. It’s gone a long way to restore my wavering faith in humanity.

It is not a replacement for the safety nets our society so desperately needs, though, and I’m not going to tell you to hang out on social media all day hoping someone will mention free cash.

But while you’re scrolling through your feed anyways, keeping an eye out doesn’t hurt. <3

File Your Taxes from Years Past

If you are low-income and have not filed income taxes for the past few years, one of the best ways to come up with a big chunk of cash is going to be to file your tax returns from the past three years — if you haven’t already.

Here’s the thing: I know so many people who don’t file because they know the amount taken out of their paycheck covers them.

They’re not going to owe money. And while they might want a refund, the anxiety of taking their finances to some stranger at H&R Block who is also their Kmart cashier — aging myself, I know — is just not worth the amount they think they will get back.

But here’s the other thing: When you’re low- to lower-middle-income, there are so many tax credits that can put money back in your pocket. We’re talking about thousands of dollars in some cases on a single credit.

And another thing: You have three years to file your return.

Depending on what you qualify for, you could potentially file a return that would provide you with months’ worth of income to cover basic expenses. And if you haven’t filed for multiple years, you could potentially multiply that over the course of several more months.

There’s also a potential you would get nothing back, depending on your life and employment circumstances over the past three years. I also don’t know how long it would currently take the IRS to deliver your refund.

But it’s one of the biggest potential wins I can think of. If you haven’t filed because you know you didn’t owe, file now because our government likely owes you.

Report Your Lack of Commute to Your Auto Insurer

Sometimes one of the best ways to free up some room in your budget is to cut your expenses. I’ve been keeping an eye out for new ways to do this in 2020 over the past few weeks, and came across a really good idea I hadn’t considered, likely because my own commute hasn’t changed aside from a few cancelled in-person networking events:

When you have to live close to the margin, you know that $21 can be the difference between making a bill or not. And what I loved about this tip was that not only will she save $21 this month, but she’ll be freeing up $21 more in April, May and every month until she returns to her regular commute.

It’s a small amount. But those small amounts add up.

Call Your Lenders

Things are real right now. If you’re worried about priorities like keeping food on the table and a roof over your head, debt payments may have to be put on hold. Reluctantly. Out of pure necessity.

That does not make you an irresponsible person.

I’ve actually seen a lot of banks actively recognizing this. Some are even taking initiative and reaching out to some of their most vulnerable debtors to make sure this doesn’t send them into a tailspin from which they can’t recover.

I’m not here to tell you all the banks are suddenly looking out for your best interests with a pure heart, though. Many of them will make more money off of you over the long-term with these new arrangements.

But also you need to buy groceries today, and might not have income from a job anymore. Paying more over a longer period of time may be the only option.

If you find yourself in this situation, call up your lenders. See if you can restructure your debt or defer payments, and ask about the following before making any commitments to a new arrangement:

  • Will this extend my loan term? This might not necessarily be a deal breaker given everything you’re dealing with right now, but it’s still a good piece of information to know.
  • Will extra interest continue to accumulate, even if you’re telling me I don’t have to make my payment this month? At what rate?
  • Will this create a balloon payment at the end of my loan? How do I avoid that at all costs?
  • If you have a secured loan, like an auto loan, at what point do you have to worry about repossession? You’re obviously going to do everything you can to avoid getting to that point, but even the banks are acknowledging right now that this is not your fault. Ask all the questions so you can learn all your options and make the most informed decisions possible.

Take Advantage of Special Enrollment Periods

If you’ve lost your job and live in a Medicaid expansion state, losing your job qualifies you for a Special Enrollment Period. You can apply for Medicaid, regardless of the time of year.

Medicaid is free in most states, though premiums may be prorated or require copays in others.

This is much more beneficial than a COBRA plan that may or may not cover everything you need. COBRA can also cost you a ton out-of-pocket while you’re dealing with a serious cash flow situation.

If you live in a Medicaid expansion state, you can apply for Medicaid at Healthcare.gov.

During this time when domestic violence is more than likely to be on the rise, it’s also important for victims to know that leaving an abusive situation qualifies you for a Special Enrollment Period, as well. That does not remove the need to be extremely careful as you do so, and to create a 1:1 safety plan with an expert in the field before attempting to make any departure.

Have more tips on making or saving money during the pandemic?

If you have any new savings tips for this brave new world we’re living in, I’d love to hear them! Leave them in the comments, @ me on social media or shoot me an email. I’ll continue sharing what’s working for readers throughout the pandemic!

Justine’s Investing Journey: Real Estate FTW

Please welcome Justine of Live with Plum! She’s here to share her deep real estate expertise. Enjoy!

Hi, everyone!

I am Justine and I am the Founder of Live With Plum, the homebuying guide for the modern women.

I started Live With Plum after going through my own real estate journey and seeing how few resources there were for homebuyers, especially first-time home owners.

Also, as a single millennial woman of color, there weren’t many stories that looked like mine even though we are a substantial and growing segment of homeowners in America.

I had purchased 4 apartments in New York City by age 30 while working full-time and learned quite a few lessons along the way. Today I want to tell you more about my own home buying journey with a focus on my first transaction and the most recent transaction. My thought process has changed quite a bit since I started!

Through my story, I hope you will takeaway some lessons in real estate investing.

First apartment purchase: Gramercy studio

The first apartment I bought was at 25, just after I graduated from business school. I was eager to lay down some roots as I had spent my early 20s traveling extensively.

After weeks of exhaustive research, I finally found a tiny 300 sqft studio in Gramercy.

My thought process for this purchase was more like a primary resident. But I also took note of the investment opportunity.

Over the years, I’ve come to see how most people, when prioritizing the criteria of their search, purchase only with an eye to live but don’t fully consider the investment side of it. I chose my unit because I wanted to live in it and also could see the rental value.

Size: Studio, 300 square feet

Tiny, tiny apartment but because I was living in it, I prioritized the location over the size. This was definitely a starter apartment for one person.

Location: Gramercy

Because this was my primary residence to start, I wanted a neighborhood that had all the conveniences and entertainment nearby. Gramercy fit that bill as an already established neighborhood but was also one of the most expensive neighborhoods on a per square foot basis in NYC.

Building: Cooperative building

Cooperatives are quite unique to NYC and basically means the building has a lot of power over what homeowners can and cannot do. Most cooperatives have strict sublet policies but I managed to find one with liberal policies.

Fourth apartment purchase: South Bronx 3 bedroom

After completing 3 successful transactions, I was ready to take on more risks. I purchased my largest and most recent property in 2019, which was a 3-bedroom apartment in the South Bronx.

Size: 3 bedroom, 1200 square feet

As I progressed on my journey, I started to purchase bigger apartments as I realized that a studio would have limited appreciation potential in the end, just due to the size limits.

Also, living in a larger apartment allowed me to house hack, which basically means that while I live in this apartment, I decided to rent out 2 of the 3 bedrooms to create additional sources of income.

At the end, the rent (market rate) from my 2 tenants covered the mortgage and homeowner association fees for the apartment, so I ended up living for free. I probably will not continue having roommates in the longer term as I get older and want more privacy, but this is a good way of living within your means in an high cost of living city.

Location: South Bronx

Area-wise, I saw that established neighborhoods meant a more limited appreciation potential therefore I started purchasing in rising neighborhoods instead.

Building: Condominium building

While cooperative buildings are cheaper than condo buildings, there was a limited supply of buildings that allowed for subletting. Also, any renovation work done in a cooperative building required a lot more approvals than in a condo building. From an investment perspective, condominiums made a lot more sense for a passive investor.

What I’ve learned as a real estate investor.

Reflecting back on my journey, I am proud of the work I put in. I absolutely believe that a successful investor is the product of experience and the willingness to test things out. My biggest learnings and advice are:

  • Size: Larger apartments and multi-families allow you to house hack, which is a great way to build up equity on a smaller budget.
  • Location: Either pick the worst unit in the best district if you can renovate, or pick an up and coming neighborhood.
  • Building: Look for building policies that align with your intent. If you need to invest, then do a ton of research and diligence on building policies.

Have you invested in real estate? Share your experiences in the comments below!

Laundry Care: Meaningful & Profitable Side Hustle

This post is brought to you by Laundry Care.

I consider myself incredibly fortunate. I have a job where I can work out of my own home during the hours that fit my schedule. This is especially huge for me as a single mom. Even with my mom close by providing me with so much help, I don’t think I could work a traditional job.

And when I say traditional, I mean anything that took me outside of my home. I wouldn’t be able to afford childcare for after school hours, or a nanny to get them on the bus in the morning. It wouldn’t matter if I was building burritos or skyscrapers; my personal circumstances probably would have forced me out of the workplace by this point.

I’m so grateful for my job as a writer, and the fact that because everything is online now, I do, in fact, have a job that has not required me to drop out of the workforce in any way, shape or form. These same opportunities were not available to my mother’s generation.

An Easier Route to a Home-Based Business

Building a blog and a business was not something that happened overnight, though. It was something that I did for free for years before it became a profitable business. If I were looking for a way to immediately start an income-generating business from home, I would not recommend a blog.

Recently, though, I had a chance to talk with Betha McClelland, a fellow Pittsburgh mother who also runs her own business. It is one that she built over a few years of work, but she was also making money from Day One.

Laundry Care

Betha works for Laundry Care, a laundry service which matches you with local, professional-level cleaning from Providers who work out of their own home. Laundry Care provides her with the layer of tech needed to find customers, pick up and drop off home deliveries, and get paid.

How do I get my laundry done with Laundry Care?

I gave Laundry Care a shot as a part of researching this article. They send you generously-sized, cotton laundry bags to fill up with your dirties.

Then, you use the app or online portal to let Laundry Care know when you’d like your stuff picked up for cleaning. They then dispatch your order to different Providers they have in the area, who can turn the order down or pick it up. Set your bags out on your porch during the pickup window of your choosing and you’re good to go!

How long does it take to get my laundry back from Laundry Care?

A normal order takes about two days to complete. Just as with pick-up, you get to pick the delivery time, too – the Provider will leave your clothes on your porch! Betha ended up being my Provider, and happened to have a light schedule that particular day, so I got my clothes back the same evening!

I don’t know that I’ve ever seen clothes so professionally folded. I gave her two massive laundry bags full of dirty clothing. This is what I got back:

It was so nice not to have to worry about laundry for a day, and even nicer that it came back so professionally done.

How much does Laundry Care cost?

In my area, service was about $30/bag. While not a weekly service for our house, when Betha started telling me about her clientele I started to appreciate how this service could be used by individual consumers. She told me about family members gifting laundry services for college students. Moms overwhelmed by a crazy weekend of extracurriculars, psychically unable to clean that uniform before the next game because human beings still haven’t mastered the art of being in two places at once.

Yes, there are some families who enlist Betha’s regular services on a biweekly basis. They must have far less messy children than I because we could never go two weeks!

But I heard Betha’s voice light up when we started talking about those less-regular clients, like one college student who was sick, so the parents long-distance ordered her services.  In these moments, she gets to see her work make a tangible difference in someone’s life, often when they’re otherwise stressed, sick or overwhelmed. And that’s meaningful.

Earning with Laundry Care

I didn’t just want Betha to do my laundry, though, as immaculately folded as it was. I wanted to learn more about her business, what made her decide to start working with Laundry Care, and what has made her so successful.

“I enjoy doing laundry!” she told me. “It’s weird! I know it’s something most people don’t like. I’m one of eleven, so I’ve been doing laundry all my life. Then I had four children of my own. So I’ve spent a lot of time doing laundry. I’m good at it. I like it. I can be home and work it around my schedule. Now my children are adults, and I have grandchildren. I can work around their schedules and continue to grow my business.”

That business started about three years ago on the side. It was a hustle on top of her other job. But with her work ethic and love for the work, Betha kept taking on new assignments, getting fairly regular repeat customers. She nurtured her business into a thriving profession which allows her the flexibility she enjoys today.

Many of her clients today are commercial clients – businesses that need their laundry done. Betha has a fair amount of them. Enough that she has used her business profits to reoutfit her home with three washers and four dryers.

You don’t have to go big-time.

But she stresses that you don’t have to turn your house into a laundry mat to make this work. Her daughter has taken an interest in the family business, but doesn’t do anything quite as intense. She uses it as a side hustle as her mother originally did, allowing her to tend to all the other needs in her life and still pull in some extra cash. As requests come in, she can accept them or decline them as they match her schedule, releasing assignments that don’t match to other area Providers.

Betha says her daughter works about 25-30 hours/month, and estimates that she pulls in about $2,000 over each 30-day period. 

How much does the average Laundry Care Provider earn?

Betha and her daughter are two specific case studies, but Laundry Care also has metrics for its average Provider.

Laundry Care Providers are typically paid $20 per bag. There is also extra compensation for additional services such as rush orders (24 hr service), ironing and dry cleaning courier service.

On average, providers earn $120-$300 weekly.  This information is based on 7-12 clients and can be achieved with a small 10-15 hr commitment.  Laundry Care’s top earners make $500-$700 per week with a larger commitment of 15-35 hours weekly.

What do I need to start making money with Laundry Care?

Startup costs with Laundry Care are low. You’ll need to fill out the application, have a washer and dryer which you can use to do the laundry, and purchase the $45 startup kit, which includes:

  • Laundry Care branded reusable nylon bags.
  • Bag tags.
  • Garment covers.
  • Hanging scale.

What will my job responsibilities be as a Laundry Care Provider?

When you sign on as a Laundry Care Provider, you’re taking on the following responsibilities:

  • Accept orders within their service area and availability.
  • Pick-up and deliver laundry at client’s location within scheduled time frame.
  • Wash, dry, fold/hang and package laundry according to client’s laundry preferences.
  • Provide additional services like occasional ironing and dry cleaning courier service by request. Each extra service needed is compensated accordingly.

Laundry as a sustainable side hustle.

Laundry Care makes earning money from home super easy if you have access to a washer and dryer. It’s the layer of tech that connects you with people who need and are willing to pay for your services. And on the other side of things, Betha, her daughter and all those that Laundry Care empowers are there ensuring the laundry you get hand-delivered to your home is done right.

Income Goal Updates, PF by Women Member Feature & Cool Things Happening in Pennsylvania

I’m a little late with my income goal update this month. I apologize!

Sort of.

I was in Japan recently for one of my longest and best friend’s wedding. I took my time while I was there, which resulted in this update coming a little later than usual.

I’ll tell you all about my most recent Japan adventures soon. You can check out tips from my last trip by browsing the travel section. Or, if you just can’t wait, I maaaaayyyyy already be sharing some pics on Instagram.

But right now I want to catch you up on how my charts have been working.

Today I’m icy but I’m praying for some more snow.

Inspired by Nicki Minaj and Queen Bey, October’s income chart definitely helped me get inspired to pursue more work. And to do so ever-so-close to successfully!

I had some banking issues while I was abroad — which I’ll also cover in a future post — so my personal finances don’t look as good as my business income this month. But I’m still anticipating payment for some of the work lined up on this income chart, and I’m so fortunate to know my money woes are something I am reasonably capable of fixing.

Just watch my wildest dreams come true…

November’s chart is inspired by Paramore. I did lower my income goal this month. I want to be sure I’m stretching myself, but also that I’m setting achievable goals.

With the travel and some paperwork responsibilities I have this month just to keep my household running, I knew that I would not be able to dedicate the time necessary to keep my goal as high as it has been.

Don’t worry. It’ll be going back up again in December.

I am decently happy with how quickly this smaller chart is filling up, though. The chart has filled in a tiny bit more since I took this pic, and I’m close enough that I’m super motivated to hustle. Should I happen to beat my goal, that’s all the better!

Check out past income goal charts:

Personal Finance by Women

Thank you everyone for all of your support of Personal Finance by Women! The effort launched a couple months ago, and we’ve already gotten a lot done. We’ve completed a service project using financial literacy to fight the opioid epidemic, generated income-earning opportunities for our membership and have another service project on its way in the Spring.

On top of all this, on Friday we had some exciting news go live.

Business Insider — whose editorial team values diverse writers — featured PF by Women member Charis Hill’s story of home ownership on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Please check out more of the deets — it’s such a well-written and eye-opening story!

Black Friday Family Day at the Mattress Factory

installation art pittsburgh

To my readers in Pittsburgh:

I’m so excited to let you know about a really fun event at the Mattress Factory on Black Friday! Rather than going out and spending hoards of money on things, they’re offering families an opportunity to build memories at a great event.

Great events are the only type of events the Mattress Factory does.

You can skip the lines at the mall and stop by the Mattress Factory on Friday, November 29, from 1-5 PM, for a day of family-friendly, hands-on activities and three buildings of installation art.

Family Day activities have something for everyone and will include zine making, face painting by Rikki, early learner explorations, teen activities, a hot chocolate bar and music courtesy of DJ Dave Zak.

The event is free with regular museum admission which is:

  • $20 for adults
  • $15 for students and seniors
  • $10 for veterans
  • $1 per person in a family with an ACCESS card (up to 4 tickets)
  • Children under 6 free

Aside from a fun way to spend the day after Thanksgiving, Family Day also gives guests the opportunity to learn more about the Mattress Factory’s regular educational programming.

Dinosaur Adventure

If you’re looking for something to do over the winter holiday break with the kiddos, you might want to head to the Monroeville Convention Center.

On December 27-29, 2019, the Convention Center will be hosting Dinosaur Adventure, and it looks sick.

Dinosaur Adventure is an all-new, one of a kind exhibit featuring realistic, life-sized dinosaurs that come alive with their life-like movement and roars. Learn about the most popular dinosaurs — Tyrannosaurus, Triceratops, Diplodocus, Velociraptor — and explore recent finds with exciting discoveries!

As part of Dinosaur Adventure, children of all ages will enjoy a variety of activities: fossil crafting, Jurassic jeeps, themed obstacle courses, riding their favorite dinosaur, and more! The whole family will also be amused by our live entertainment featuring a walking dinosaur show, and a baby dinosaur meet & greet.

Best part? Because you’re a reader of this blog, you can save $3 on your ticket using code: FLASH3

You don’t have to be in the Pittsburgh area to attend! This is touring the country, and Pittsburgh is actually the last stop. Find out if your city is on the list.

Crayola Experience Easton

If you live a little further east in PA, you can check out Crayola Experience on the regular. As a Pittsburgher, I prefer to make the trek out east in the warmer months.

But either way, I just found out the Crayola Experience in Easton offers annual passes for just $29.99. ALSO, if you purchase a pass between now and November 30, you get 13 months of membership instead of the usual 12. These deals are exclusively offered to you as one of my readers.

So if you’re looking for something to put under the tree…

I’m really excited to head out that way once the weather starts turning!

Are Horizontal Banners the Right Choice for Your Event Promotion?

This post is brought to you and contributed by an outside writer.

You’ve done all the groundwork to participate in an event. You’ve researched various opportunities and zeroed in on the event that aligns best with your business goals. All details of the event have been collated and the location of your exhibit finalized. You’ve arranged for the funds required and done your homework around the attendees. Now it’s time to finalize your marketing material. Among the most powerful and cost-effective alternatives to enhance your company’s presence at an event is Horizontal Banner Stands, say experts at New Jersey Banner Stands. Let’s look at the various benefits this offers, so you can take an informed decision.

The Many Advantages of Horizontal Banners

  • Cost effective: Horizontal banners, even the pop up variety, are much more affordable than most other types of displays. So, if you’re tight on budget, this would make a good option.
  • Lightweight: Being light in weight, they are easily transportable. This saves you the additional hassle and cost of cartage.
  • Sophisticated look and feel: Provided the graphics have been designed by a professional, this option can give a touch of class to your exhibit.
  • Impactful: With exciting design, compelling text and full-color graphics, Horizontal banners can make quite an impact on the event attendees. When designing such banners, ensure that it takes your brand messaging into account and that consistency is maintained with your other marketing material.
  • Have multiple uses: A Horizontal banner with a pop up stand can be used for brand building as well as for sharing important contact information, listing the USPs of your offering and brightening up your exhibit.
  • Many ways to display: The Horizontal banner can be hung with cords against a wall, mounted on an outdoor stand or attached to a pop up banner stand.
  • Have a long service life: The richness of printing lasts much longer when done on good quality Horizontal. This is because the ink becomes part of the Horizontal. Even in hot and humid weather, the colors will not fade in a hurry. Moreover, you can ensure to purchase Horizontal banners that are washable.
  • Can be used after the event is over: After the event has concluded, you can mount the Horizontal banner on an outdoor stand and place it outside your office or store. This will continue to give you returns on the investment made for the event. If you wish to do this, ensure that the text and graphics are more generic.

Additional tip: Don’t forget to click lots of photographs against the Horizontal pop up banner. These can be displayed on your website or shared via social media. You can even tag your prospective clients in their photographs against your banner. This ensures continued engagement even after the event has concluded.

Other Uses of Horizontal Banners

Apart from promotion at events, Horizontal banners mounted on pop up stands can be used to make announcements, share motivational messages, mention schedules, provide directions, commemorate achievements or simply to decorate your office walls. No wonder then that such banners are being used increasingly by businesses and organizations.